Protesters picket Phillippines tobacco show

Anti-smoking advocates have picketed a large international tobacco fair in the Philippines that has emerged as a battleground for the industry.

The World Health Organization also has criticized the gathering that opened Thursday. It says the event provides a platform for cigarette makers to promote “a deadly product in the Philippines and throughout Asia.”

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III sent a welcome message with hopes the meeting would benefit the country’s economy. Organizers said city authorities waived an indoor smoking ban for delegates.

But the government has also supported a new tax bill aiming to discourage smoking that has tobacco manufacturers worried.