VICTORY. Senator Pia Cayetano (right) goes to the Supreme Court to file a motion to intervene in the Department of Health and Food and Drugs Administration case against the Philippine Tobacco Institute on April 11, 2013. The organization sought court intervention to be free from FDA regulation and the high court finally ruled in favor of the DOH and FDA on June 7. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Sen. Pia Cayetano)

MANILA – Senator Pia Cayetano called it a victory for the future generation as she commended on Sunday the Supreme Court (SC) ruling that upheld the validity of the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 9711 or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Act of 2009 and recognized the continued regulatory authority of the Department of Health (DOH) and FDA over cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Cayetano said the health hazards of tobacco cannot be denied as backed by strong medical evidence.

"It is common sense that these products be subjected to strict regulation by a competent health authority. As principal sponsor of RA 9711 and later, as an intervenor in this case along with Senator Franklin Drilon, I laud our SC for this landmark decision," she said in a statement.

Cayetano credited the guidance and support of her fellow health advocates, including the late DOH secretary, Dr. Alberto “Quasi” Romualdez, for the “triumph”.

She is hoping that the incoming Marcos administration will continue to strengthen the health systems and ensure that all harmful and potentially harmful products are duly regulated.

Cayetano recalled going to the SC with Drilon on April 11, 2013 to file a motion to intervene in the DOH and FDA case against the Philippine Tobacco Institute (PTI), whose members include Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing, Inc., Fortune Tobacco Corp., La Suerte Cigar, and Cigarette Factory.

The organization rejected FDA’s authority then and sought court intervention.

The SC decision, promulgated on June 7, read "there is no overlap of functions, as it is clear that petitioners have technical authority over matters of public health" and that the implementing rules explicitly state that rules and regulations and other issuances to be promulgated by the FDA will refer to policy areas that are not covered by specialized agencies and special laws.

“Tobacco-related addiction and disease constitute a global epidemic with serious consequences. However, despite these obvious health hazards, the tobacco industry has marketed and sold their lethal products with zeal, deception, a single-minded focus on financial success, and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that such success has exacted. Through creative and aggressive marketing and advertising, the tobacco industry is constantly able to conceal the harm and addictiveness of its products,” read Cayetano and Drilon’s motion to intervene eight years ago.

In 2011, a Las Piñas court also denied for lack of merit PTI’s petition to stop the DOH and FDA from enforcing any form of regulation or supervision on tobacco products.

According to the PTI petition, RA 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 states that the Inter-Agency Committee on Tobacco has exclusive authority to implement the law, which includes regulation.

FDA and DOH countered that cigarette falls under their authority because of its impact on health.

“Imagine how detrimental it will be for Filipinos if the petition of the tobacco industry was granted. The industry wants a government committee where it sits as a member to regulate tobacco products. This is not only ironic, but worse, puts the whole nation’s health at risk,” tobacco control advocate Emer Rojas said at the time. (PNA)