Philippines Still Friendly to Tobacco Industry

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SYDNEY, Australia -- As other countries in the Asia Pacific count their gains in the war against the tobacco lobby, the Philippines remains a haven for the cigarette industry and its millions of loyal patrons.

At an international conference on tobacco control here, hundreds of scientists and advocates from around the region heard of plans for Australia to abolish commercial labels on cigarette packs by 2012. Bhutan has banned the sale of tobacco altogether.

Nearly 40 countries around the globe have picture health warnings on cigarette packs, one of the most cost-effective interventions in public health, according to Dr. Geoffrey Fong, a Canadian expert who spoke at the Asia Pacific Conference on Tobacco or Health here.