Doctors told to quit smoking, practice what they preach, 26/09/10

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) urged its members to set an example to patients by not smoking. In a resolution Friday, the PMA “prohibited” smoking among its members and enjoined all other medical practitioners not to smoke.

 PMA president Oscar Tinio pointed out that smokers were not the only ones affected by the habit. He said the health of nonsmokers was put at risk by secondhand smoke, “which is equally, if not more, damaging.” The PMA resolution asked doctors to inform their patients about the benefits of not smoking and the ill effects of tobacco use. “Our members are in the best position to know the damaging effects of tobacco smoking on a person’s health,” Tinio said.

Dr. Mike Aragon, chair of PMA’s media affairs, said members violating the resolution would be subject to penalties provided for in the association’s rules.

He encouraged the public to report doctors who were smoking. A committee would decide on what to do with the erring members, he added.

 The PMA resolution was signed at the end of the association’s Fun Run, an activity led by “running priest” Fr. Robert Reyes at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.Similar activities were held simultaneously in the PMA’s 118 chapters in cities and towns around the country. Aside from doctors, representatives of civic organizations that advocated no smoking also joined the Fun Run.Tinio admitted that some doctors continued to smoke despite knowing its ill effects. This gave the public the false impression that PMA was not supportive of the no smoking campaign, he said.“Physicians must be role models on matters of health…that is why it is highly inappropriate for physicians to be seen smoking,” Tinio said.

Government statistics show that there are some 17.3 million smokers in the Philippines, about 28 percent of the population aged 15 and above. Even President Benigno S. Aquino III is a smoker, saying the habit helps him deal with the stress of his job.

 Aragon said the PMA, which counts majority of the country’s medical practitioners as members, was a crucial partner of government in nation-building and was promoting public-private partnership.The PMA is helping, among other things, the pursuit of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) particularly the achievement by 2015 of Philippine targets on child health, maternal mortality and infectious diseases.


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