20 March 2017:
MANILA — More than one million Filipinos have quit tobacco use, the Department of Health said.
In a press briefing, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said Monday that a number of tobacco control interventions, particularly tobacco taxation, have led to a significant drop in number of current smokers from 17 million (2009) to 15.9 million (2015).
“This figure represents a relative reduction of close to 20 percent of smokers or in simpler terms, one million Filipinos have quit tobacco use–the biggest decline we have seen in the Philippine history, and we can do more to stop the suffering caused by this epidemic,” said Ubial.
She added that other measures that have contributed to the decline in smoking are graphic health warnings, local ordinances and advocacy of the health sector in strong partnership with civil society.
This notable reduction in tobacco use translated to a million Filipinos at lower risk of cancer, heart disease, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Ubial said.
Citing the 2015 Philippines’ Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), only 15.9% of Filipino adults have been smoking tobacco products, Ubial said. Only 40.3 percent of male adults and only 5.3 percent of female adults have continued to smoke, Ubial said.
“Smoking among women declined by close to 50 percent — also a sign that measures to counteract smoking among women are working,” Ubial said.
She also saifd that the 2015 GATS shows that 3 out of four smokers in the Philippines want to quit and that health providers should support Filipinos who want to get out of nicotine addiction.
But while exposure to cancer-causing second-hand smoke had declined significantly in public transport, government offices and workplaces, Ubial expressed concern that the rate of exposure to smoking in bars and nightclubs has been high and unacceptable.
She also warned families against going to restaurants where smoking has remained allowed indoors.
Ubial also bared that the executive order on banning smoking in enclosed public places nationwide is now on the table of President Duterte and “ready for signing” once he returns from trips. SFM/rga