29 year old man dies in drinking contest
Manila, Philippines — Is any latest gadget, designer watch, or cash prize enough to replace a life?
Last April 6, an alcohol-drinking contest held along White Beach, Puerto Galera killed its second place winner Niño Maralit after consuming 32 shots of hard liquor. News reports on the tragedy referred to a beer-drinking event sponsored by a nameless tobacco firm. Sources reveal that the said tobacco firm has been identified to be Philip Morris, which conducted a ‘shooters’ contest where contestants who consumed the most number of shots wins the prizes at stake.
“As if it weren’t enough that they kill through their very products, cigarette companies take this tragedy to another level by circumventing laws and sponsoring events of a lethal nature,” cites Irene Reyes, Managing Director of HealthJustice Philippines, an internationally-awarded NGO working on public health policy, and country coordinator for surveillance of tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion.
Online readers were quick to react to news reports published on the internet.
“The big question is why did Mayor Dolor give a permit to Philip Morris, a tobacco company, when there is an anti-smoking ordinance in the municipality which prohibits advertising of cigarettes,” comments an online reader. “Philip Morris, the Mayor, and the event organizer should all be held responsible for involuntary manslaughter. Everyone knows that enticing someone to drink more hard liquor than he can hold will result to coma and death.”
International group South East Asia Tobacco Control also weighed in on the matter.
“Tobacco companies not only make and promote a deadly product, they also encourage alcoholic binge drinking, which led to this young man’s death. Obviously, these companies are also responsible for the more than 87,000 Filipino tobacco-related deaths each year. To say that this cigarette company is socially irresponsible would be an understatement,” states Project Director Ulysses Dorotheo.
Barangay captain Rocky Ilagan of neighboring Barangay, Sabang, relays how Philip Morris also approached him to apply for a permit to conduct the said event. He rejected the request immediately as he was aware that this would be a violation of both the national law and their local ordinance.
According to reports, Maralit collapsed after taking his turn at drinking shots. There was no provision of first aid services during the contest event and his companions mistook his behavior as simply caused by intoxication. Maralit was later brought to Delos Reyes Hospital and declared dead on arrival.
“Here we have another senseless death. We call on our government to prioritize the prevention of all these unnecessary tragedies caused by the business of cigarettes. No amount of run-around reasoning can cover up the blood on their hands,” declares Reyes. (HEALTH JUSTICE)
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