- Written by Tribune Wires
- Monday, 17 August 2015 00:00
A pack of cigarettes costs around $1.4 in the Philippines. According to The Tobacco Atlas created by the New York-based World Lung Foundation (WLF) and the American Cancer Society, on average, a regular smoker in the Philippines would have to spend “4.5 percent of the national median income to purchase 10 of the cheapest cigarettes to smoke each day.”
A family income and expenditure survey conducted by the National Statistics Office in 2012 shows that the average annual income of Filipino families is around P235,000. A family with a regular smoker that smokes one cigarette pack a day would cost them roughly P22,072 each year.
According to the WLF, more than 71,850 Filipinos are killed by tobacco-related diseases each year. With 505,600 children and more than 15,570,000 adults using tobacco each day, the Philippines is one of only 13 countries with more than 10 million daily male smokers.
These facts were enough reasons for the Department of Health (DoH) together with New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) and WLF to launch a powerful national anti-tobacco campaign that will highlight the dangers of smoking on the health of both smokers and non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoking (SHS).
Sandra Mullin, senior vice president for Policy and Communications of the WLF, praised the efforts being done to stop tobacco use in the country. “We congratulate the Department of Health and the New Vois Association of the Philippines on the launch of this new campaign. Research has shown that national mass media communication campaign is one of the most effective means of raising awareness of the real health harms of tobacco and second-hand smoke, deterring youth from initiating tobacco use, urging smokers to comply with smoke-free laws and encourage smokers to stop smoking. We are delighted to have supported the design and implementation of this campaign in the knowledge that it will benefit the health of Filipinos and help the Philippines achieve health-related development goals in the future.”
Mullin along with Dr. Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial, Assistant Secretary of Health of the DoH; Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, DoH official spokesperson; Corazon Jimenez, Undersecretary of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority; Mego Lien, Associate Director, Southeast Asia Programs/Policy, Advocacy and Communication of the WLF; Dr. Benjamin Lane, acting country representative of the World Health Organization Philippines; and smoking-related cancer survivor and now president of the NVAP, Engineer Emerito Rojas were present in said event.
Two public service announcements (PSAs) will be featured in the campaign. The first is called “Cigarettes Are Eating You Alive,” which will graphically show the damage smoking can cause to nearly every vital organ and tissue of the body. The other is called “Cigarettes Are Eating Your Baby Alive,” and will show the potential harm of SHS to children and non-smokers.
Both PSAs will implement graphic health warning images on tobacco packs showing stroke, oral cancer, neck cancer and throat cancer in smokers and laryngeal cancer, stroke and low birth weight in babies suffering from SHS exposure.
Both PSAs aim to encourage smokers to “cut down and quit, take steps to protect others from exposure to SHS and build support for tobacco control laws including graphic warnings on tobacco packs.”
Dr. Ubial said tobacco-related health problems can be considered a “global health issue.” According to The Tobacco Atlas, exposure to SHS alone has killed more than 600,000 non-smokers in 2010 globally. Additionally, tobacco use is the world’s number one preventable cause of mortality, killing nearly six million people each year — one in 10 preventable deaths worldwide.
Rojas said, “Tobacco continues to cause too much premature death and disease among adults and children in the Philippines. Ten people die every hour due to smoking related diseases in the Philippines. Mass media campaign can help to raise awareness of the harms of tobacco and effect behavior change at population level. This increases the effectiveness of the graphic warnings on tobacco packs soon to be introduced in the country.”
“Ten deaths per hour is a crisis,” added Dr. Lane when he stated that nearly 10 Filipinos die each hour due to continued tobacco use. According to the WLF, smoking 10 or fewer cigarettes per day decreases life expectancy by five years on average and increases lung cancer risk by up to 20 times.
Until September, the PSAs will be broadcast on national free-to-air TV channels. There will be 15- and 30-second versions of both PSAs and both will end with a call to action: “Tobacco harms children and adults alike. Quit smoking today!” They will include the hashtag #SmokefreePh.
The campaign will also air on LED billboards throughout Metro Manila. It is estimated that the campaign will reach as many as 40 million Filipinos between the ages of 15 and 64 years. WLF said, “The implementation of this best-practice mass media campaign could save the lives of thousands of Filipinos and reduce the health and economic costs of tobacco.”
For the campaign to deliver maximum impact, the WLF “encourages the government to further raise tobacco excise taxes; fully implement smoking bans and prohibitions on tobacco advertising, promotions and sponsorship; and implement large graphic warning labels on tobacco packs.” By Jun Yun, Contributor