NGOs Exposed in Funding Vape Ban Lobbying in the Philippines

A “small, corrupt network of elites” are “funneling cash through a myriad of anti-tobacco organizations and charities, and are particularly focused on influencing laws.

“These foundations dismiss compelling international scientific evidence and apply bullying tactics to unduly influence the public health policies of sovereign nations. While many independent Asia-Pacific countries are delivering progressive and successful tobacco harm reduction policies and programs, big money and influence – mostly American – are conspiring to demonize their work,” said the Philippine representative of CAPHRA, Clarisse Virgino, who conducted the research.

A recent report by the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability’s, on the questionable funding to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from Bloomberg, called for a full-blown investigation to determine the extent of the foundations’ interference.

Across the ocean, a broader inquiry issued by the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping Inquiry (APPG), criticized anti-vaping groups funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, for striving to stunt tobacco harm reduction (THR) strategies in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).

In line with arguments by several other tobacco harm reduction advocates, the publication highlighted that anti-vaping “civil society observers” have been allowed to participate in the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Conference of the Parties 9 (FCTC COP 9).

Anti-vaping entities participating in the FCTC COP 9

The APPG warned about the participation of The Union, a group funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, as well as other anti-vaping non-government organizations, in the upcoming FCTC COP 9 meeting taking place in November. The report said that sadly the WHO continues to condemn UK’s science and policy approach to address the smoking problem, despite the data indicating its success.

“The majority of NGOs listed as ‘Observers’ are hostile to the concept of tobacco harm reduction and thus the UK’s policy approach. For instance, ‘The Union’ has advocated a complete ban on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products in low and middle-income countries, which are home to 80 percent of the world’s smokers,” said the APPG report.

Numerous grants

In the Philippines, Virgino explains, “this small, corrupt network of elites” are “funneling cash through a myriad of anti-tobacco organizations and charities, they’re particularly focused on influencing laws in more vulnerable developing countries.”

Her research revealed that since 2010, Health Justice Philippines has received at least eight grants; Action for Economic Reforms got at least six grants since 2011; Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines received at least 10 grants since 2009; New Vois Association of the Philippines received at least five grants since 2014; Action On Smoking & Health Philippines and the Philippine Legislators’ Committee On Population and Development each received at least two grants since 2017 and 2018, respectively; Social Watch Philippines had three grants since 2018.

Philippines Experts Urge Authorities to Raise Tobacco Age Limit

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