Health agency alarmed by smoking in government agencies, 24/11/10

THE regional Department of Health is concerned over the increasing instances of smoking in public and in government agencies and its effects on people’s health.

Government agencies have not been totally spared from second- and third-hand smoke.

Reports from the DOH-Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) showed that of the 18 government agencies it surveyed for anti-smoking regulations, four received a rating of “needs improvement”.

DOH-CAR anti-smoking coordinator Lily Bimuyag claims these agencies allow smoking in their workplaces instead of designating a specific area for smokers.

Bimuyag said that while this dilemma faced by government agencies is alarming, the situation is even worse in private offices, where existing rules are not being followed.

A 2009 Philippine Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) showed that among those companies whose operations are conducted indoors, only 65.4 percent have no-smoking policies.

But in these places where smoking is not allowed, around 13.9 percent are still exposed to secondhand smoke, Bimuyag said.

She warned that this has been the reason why lung cancer is still the number one killer of Filipinos today.

Exposure to tobacco smoke has also been linked to other complications such as increased risks of hypertension, cardiovascular and other pulmonary diseases.

Bimuyag added that the number of smokers increase daily as evident in the 17.3 million Filipinos estimated by the 2009 GATS survey to be smoking an average of 10 sticks a day.

This she said is a reason for alarm, which needs to be addressed by local government units in the country by passing ordinances against smoking in public.

Several towns in the region she said has passed anti-smoking ordinances while others have still been negligent on the effects of smoking to smokers and their families.

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