BAGUIO CITY—Lung cancer victims are getting younger because of smoking and unhealthy lifestyles early in their lives, health officials here said.
Dr. Donna Tubera, head of the city epidemiology and surveillance unit, said smoking at an early age is a key reason people are getting lung cancer early.
She said the cold weather in this city could be one of the reasons for early smoking.
She said, however, that teenagers are lured into smoking mainly because of peer pressure.
“In our study, we found out that [some] smokers were high school students who started smoking because of peer pressure,” she said.
She said smokers who are diagnosed with lung cancer are usually in their 40s and 50s.
“We have early smokers because cigarettes are very accessible. We have the cheapest cigarettes and yet we have the most expensive medicines. There is a lack of implementation of laws regulating or banning smoking,” Tubera said.
She said the city health office recorded 53 patients diagnosed with lung cancer last year, and most of the patients were smokers. Of this number, 17 eventually died of the disease.
Quoting a World Health Organization report, a Department of Health administrative order said tobacco is the leading cause of death, killing 5.4 million people a year, from lung cancer and heart disease.
“Smoking in the Philippines is among the highest in the world today. In 2008, the country ranked ninth highest in the world for adult male smokers, according to the World Lung Foundation and the American Cancer Society. In the same year, the country ranked 16th highest in the world for female adult smokers,” the DOH said.
It said that even among the world’s youth, the Philippines ranks high among countries with the most tobacco users with Filipino girls occupying second place and Filipino boys in the fourth slot in 2003.