THE SUPREME Court (SC) has upheld the local Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to regulate cigarettes and tobacco products in the country, according to a senator.

“This is a major victory for our people and advocates for tobacco control and public health,” Senator Pia S. Cayetano said in a statement on Sunday, citing the decision that upheld the law’s implementing rules.

Ms. Cayetano sponsored and defended the FDA Act of 2009, which empowers the agency to regulate all products affecting health, including cigarettes and tobacco. But the tobacco industry rejected FDA’s authority and brought it to court.

“The health hazards of tobacco cannot be denied, and are backed by strong medical evidence,” the lawmaker said. “It is common sense that these products be subjected to strict regulation by a competent health authority.”

She described the High Court’s ruling “a win for the Filipino people,” saying it would benefit future generations.

“It may have taken 13 years, but it’s these victories that remind me to keep fighting the good fight,” she added. “It’s what makes my job worthwhile.”

Ms. Cayetano said she expects the incoming government to continue to strengthen the country’s health systems and ensure harmful products fall under the jurisdiction of the FDA.

She recalled going to the High Court with Senator Franklin M. Drilon on April 11, 2013 to file a motion to intervene in the legal battle between FDA and Health department and the Philippine Tobacco Institute.

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

“There is no overlap of functions, as it is clear that petitioners have technical authority over matters of public health,” Ms. Cayetano said, citing the High Court ruling promulgated on June 7.

The rules that implement the FDA Act state that regulations to be promulgated by the body will not apply to those that are covered by specialized agencies and laws, it added. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan