Duterte urged to curb addiction to smoking

Philippine StarJanuary 16, 2017

Six months since the administration launched its war against illegal drugs, the New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) is now asking President Duterte to also start addressing the addiction caused by smoking.

In a statement, NVAP president Emer Rojas said it is “imperative” for Duterte to also take strides in stopping Filipinos from getting addicted to smoking cigarettes.

“First-time smokers turn into chain smokers because tobacco is addictive. Nearly 17.3 million Filipinos are currently addicted to smoking,” he noted.

Rojas claimed this “simply means that such addiction must also be curbed by the government in a similar way that it endeavors to stop the drug menace.”

He added that while illegal drugs are known to cause heart disease, respiratory issues and liver disease among others, similarly avoidable illnesses could also be caused by cigarette smoking.

“We really need to stop the premature death of Filipinos due to tobacco addiction. Like any other addiction, this must be reduced or totally prevented,” said Rojas, a known cancer survivor and tobacco victim, as he cited data showing almost 10 Filipinos die every hour due to smoking-related diseases.

The NVAP also urged Duterte to finally sign the executive order drafted by the Department of Health that prohibits smoking in all public places.

“We are calling on President Duterte to finally make a stand for Filipinos against the perennial lies of tobacco companies by signing the much-awaited EO for a smoke-free Philippines,” Rojas said.

The group is proposing that the government impose a ban on smoking in all public spaces – including parks, bus stations, inside vehicles and even in designated indoor smoking areas found in airport lounges or restaurants.

It allows smokers to puff in designated areas outside buildings and away from people.

A World Health Organization (WHO) report showed that effective tobacco policies could save eight million lives and $1 trillion annually worldwide.

The report also said smoking and tobacco use would cost world economies more than $1 trillion each year in healthcare and lost productivity, refuting claims that controls on tobacco products adversely impact economies.

Douglas Bettcher, WHO director for the prevention of noncommunicable diseases, said the report shows how lives can be saved and economies can prosper when governments implement cost-effective, proven measures that include increasing taxes and prices on tobacco products.

“Given that there are about 1.1 billion tobacco smokers aged 15 years or older around the world, an excise tax of about $0.80 per pack in each country would raise $140 billion globally,” the report said.

The authors noted that such a tax would increase retail prices on cigarettes by 42 percent on average and lead to a decline in smoking rates by up to 66 million smokers, or the equivalent of nine percent.

Without such actions to curb tobacco products, an additional two to eight million people are expected to die from tobacco and other related products by 2030, the report said.

– Sheila Crisostomo, Pia Lee-Brago

Read more: https://sg.news.yahoo.com/duterte-urged-curb-addiction-smoking-000000314.html