In the last week of September 2008, Mar Arguelles wrote in Bicol Mail about a “death clock” which ticks for millions including Filipinos who use tobacco. In support of the anti-smoking initiative, I thought I must blog on smoking because it is truly a menace that is linked to a myriad of respiratory illnesses notably lung cancer, asthma, emphysema, pneumonia and other airway diseases. The adverse effects of smoking go beyond the lungs. The heart, blood vessels, gastrointestinal tract, the nervous and urinary systems are among the body organs that bear the brunt of continued exposure to the hazardous biochemical pollutants in cigarette smoke.
In Legazpi City, Philippines, the local government in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH,) multisectoral organizations and preventive medicine advocates introduced the “Death Clock,” a graphic count and warning system on the danger and lethality of smoking. It aims to discourage smoking and urge people to stop the habit. According the World Health Organization (WHO,) smokers in ASEAN countries account for 10% of the 1.25 billion smokers worldwide.
PHILIPPINES IS SECOND IN THE MOST NUMBER OF SMOKERS AMONG ASEAN NATIONS
Country/%/# of Smokers in Millions
ASEAN Countries–Total————- 125.8
Source: Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) Philstar (09/04/07, Crisostomo, S)
The “Death Clock” is a visual countdown on the number of smoking-related deaths since House bill 3364 or the Picture-Based Health Warning Bill was filed in December last year. The visual countdown indicated that 66,960 Filipinos have already died due to smoking-related diseases as of September 24, 2008. At least 1,680 are expected to die within the next seven days. DOH statistics showed that at least 240 Filipinos die every day, or 87,600 every year, due to smoking-related diseases.” Bicol Mail (09/25/08, Arguelles, M)
The smoking problem in the Philippines can be traced to the active promotion of cigarettes in the early 1960’s. As such it is a problem that can be solved by behavior modification—educational campaigns, designation of non-smoking areas in public places, tobacco warning labels, imposition of high cigarette taxes, regulation of tobacco advertising especially among minors, control of cigarette importation, disincentive to those who cultivate and sell tobacco, assistance to those who seek jobs away from the tobacco industry and prosecution of violators of anti-smoking laws.
A sharp drop in the smoking habit has been realized by wide anti-tobacco campaigns in developed countries, yet a sustained drive must be done to totally eradicate the dangerous habit. These approaches have applications in other health problems as well like alcoholism and obesity. (Photo Credits: CRDancer; FranklinParkLibrary.com; sunnyUK) =0=