Philip Morris won’t postpone Eheads concert

By Michelle Orosa – ABS-CBN News
Philip Morris Philippines is organizing the Eraserheads reunion concert, not sponsoring it, a spokesman of the tobacco company said Friday, reiterating that it will not be violating the law if the event pushes through.

“We’re not sponsoring the event. We organized it ourselves,” said Dave Gomez, Philip Morris public affairs and communications manager.

He added: “The event is free for our valued customers. This is a little something we do for them to show them our appreciation for their continued patronage of our products.”

He said the reunion concert will push through as he assured Eraserheads fans that the event is not a violation of the law. “We have no intention of violating the law. In fact, we supported the passage of the Tobacco Act.”

Gomez explained that the reunion concert is a promotional event, which, he said, is not prohibited by the Republic Act 9211, the law that regulates the packaging, use, sale distribution and advertisements of tobacco products.

He said Section 4 (Definition of Terms) of RA 9211 promotion means, “an event or activity organized by or on behalf of a tobacco manufacturer, distributor or retailer…” Sponsorship, meanwhile, is defined as a public or private contribution to a third party in relation to an event.

Section 23 of the law defines the restrictions on tobacco promotions. The provision said no person under 18 years old will be allowed to participate in the promotional event.

Gomez said the tobacco company is strictly filtering Eraserheads fans who would be given free tickets for the reunion concert, which will be held on August 30.

‘Red List’ restricts minors

The company has since put up “The Red List” online registration site (www.marlboro.ph) for smokers who want to avail of free tickets for the concert. One of the processes that an Eraserheads fan to go through is to send Philip Morris a document that would prove he is not a minor.

Gomez said the company is curious why the Department of Health (DOH) and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP) is suddenly being hostile toward the concert.

He said the company has been organizing the same kind of events for the past years. He said major concerts featuring big Philippine bands, including Parokya ni Edgar, Sandwich and Bamboo, were organized by the company for the past years.

“This is the first time they had a complaint like this against us,” he said.

FCAP executive director Dr. Maricar Limpin had said at a press conference with DOH Undersecretary Alex Padilla that the reunion concert would be the first since a Section 25 of RA 9211 took effect July 1, 2008.

The provision defines restrictions on sponsorships of tobacco manufacturers.

Padilla had warned the tobacco company from pushing through with the concert.

“I have a warning to the tobacco company. If we are able to prove that this concert is actually sponsored by you, Philip Morris, definitely we will train our guns on you for violating the law,” Padilla said.

The DOH undersecretary, however, admitted that the “organizer” of the concert may not be liable. He said the organizer may only be sanctioned if certain restrictions on promotions are violated.

“That is why we only appeal to the organizers of the event to hopefully disassociate themselves from the [tobacco] company. Carry on with the event without the need of a tobacco company’s sponsorship,” Padilla said. The DOH official was not aware what group was the event’s organizer when he made the statement.

The ‘Red List’ site violates law

Limpin said that by putting the online registration site, the tobacco company is violating RA 9211. “It is a promotion of the tobacco product because you cannot get into the Red List without going through the website. Definitely, it is a promotion of their product.”

The registration site has the usual tobacco company health warning, “Cigarette Smoking is Dangerous To Your Health.” To register, you need to give the company some personal information, including name, address, home phone, cellular phone numbers, and e-mail address.

Limpin warned Eraserheads fans that by being included on the tobacco company’s mailing list, they are making themselves easy targets for tobacco advertisement and promotional materials.

“The lives of people, especially the youth who will sign up on the Red List will definitely be in the red, meaning stepping into the danger zone,” Limpin said

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