Anti-smoking advocates warn vs rise in cancer cases

Philippine Star | May 11, 2015

More Filipinos are likely to die of cancer and other smoking-related diseases with the graphic health warning law yet to be enforced.

Emer Rojas, New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) president, said the tobacco industry has been employing various tactics to delay implementation of GHW.

He said the Department of Health (DOH) had approved 12 templates to be used in printing GHW since the signing of the lay in July last year.

However, Rojas said, there are issues that still have to be ironed out following an appeal filed by the tobacco industry.

Tobacco companies have 18 months to sell old stocks after approval of the GHW law.M

“As the world gears for plain packaging, the Philippines is still lagging behind and struggling to implement the GHW law. This would be detrimental to public health as it may mean more deaths due to smoking including cancer,” Rojas pointed out.

According to Rojas, France is moving to impose plain packaging for cigarettes as part of an anti-cancer drive to address tobacco mortality that claims 73,000 lives annually.

Based on data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, about 59,000 Filipinos die of cancer every year, while 98,200 new cancer cases are diagnosed annually.

“More than 16 types of cancer are attributable to smoking. Cancer due to tobacco use make up fifth of all global cancer deaths. That is why having a very strong tobacco control program is more significant step forward addressing cancer incidence in the Philippines,” Rojas said.

Smoking is projected to kill eight million people annually worldwide by 2030.

Rojas said quitting smoking can minimize a person’s chances of developing lung cancer by 60 percent.

Anti-cancer advocates said health promotion and proper screening are essential in curbing the surging cancer incidence in the country.

“Let us all help in raising cancer awareness. Let us all help save lives,” Rojas said.