Smoke-related illnesses kill 240 Pinoys a day

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) disclosed that around 240 Filipinos, an hourly average of 10, die every day due to tobacco-related illnesses. The announcement was made as the health department celebrated today the World No Tobacco Day, with the primal goal of making the Philippines a smoke-free country. DOH Undersecretary Teodoro Herbusa said smoking prevalence in the Philippines is among the highest in the world; consequently, cigarette prices in the country are among the lowest in the world. He cited the country need to implement measures that can reverse problems that tobacco has brought to the country. He reiterated the need to implement the graphic health information on cigarette labels to warn people about the dangers of smoking, He also called on a 100 percent smoke-free environment to protect nonsmokers from second-hand smoke and the prohibition on selling cigarettes near places frequented by children. "Here in the developing world, smoking has increased especially in women and children. The country spends about P235 billion just to address four of the many tobacco-related diseases," said Herbusa. "The taxes of the tobacco industry are way below the particular cost and expenditure on health," he added. Meantime, the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) expressed support for the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority's (MMDA) smoking ban in public places. PMA president Oscar Tinio reiterated his organization's advocacy for a Smoke Free Philippines which the PMA launched in February this year. "We would like to congratulate MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino for demonstrating the political will to enforce the smoking ban in public places across the National Capital Region," Tinio said. "Second-hand and even third-hand tobacco smoke equally kills people" Tinio added. He cited a study on Metro Manila's 12 million residents, showing that more than 20 percent of heart attacks can be attributed to second-hand smoke. The study was done by the World Lung Foundation (WLF) and the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. The same study also revealed that if one's average exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke is one to seven hours per week the total attributable heart attack would be approximately 10 percent. If the average number of hours of exposure is more than 21 hours per week, the number of second-hand smoke-related heart attacks would increase to more than 20 percent of the total heart attacks incident. "A separate study done by the US Department of Health and Human Services showed that only by eliminating smoking in indoor spaces can a non–smoker be fully protected from exposure to second-hand smoke," Tinio said. The Philippines is among the 172 countries that originally signed the World Health Organization - Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC), the first international treaty negotiated under the WHO and entered into force on February 25, 2005. The treaty was designed to respond to the globalization of the fatal tobacco epidemic. The Philippines is yet to fully comply on its obligations under the treaty. (Dennis Carcamo)


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