OUT of every five cases of a heart attack in Metro Manila, one can be attributed to exposure to secondhand smoke, the Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday, citing the results of a survey conducted by antismoking advocates.
World Lung Foundation (WLF) and the Paris-based International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) calculated that between 10 and 20 percent of heart attacks in Metro Manila could be linked to secondhand smoke depending on the number of hours of exposure per week.
The groups based their findings on a survey conducted by WLF and DOH earlier this year as well as published global medical risk estimates for acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) from exposure to secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke, also known as passive smoking, is defined as the smoke from the burning tip of a cigarette and the smoke inhaled by a nonsmoker from a smoker.
According to the WLF, secondhand smoke is more toxic.
Children who are exposed to tobacco smoke are at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems and severe asthma.
Studies also showed that exposure to secondhand smoke for more than 21 hours per week can increase one’s risk of a heart attack by as much as 62 percent.
The WLF-DOH survey showed that 52 percent of people in Metro Manila were exposed to secondhand smoke every day in workplaces, restaurants and other public places.
While most nonsmokers reported that they get upset when they are exposed to secondhand smoke, only eight percent said they asked the smoker to put out their cigarette.
The DOH and its partner agencies—the Bloomberg Philanthropies The Union and WLF—presented the new data yesterday as the department received a grant to press its campaign for the implementation of a smoke-free policy in all public places.
“The new evidence linking secondhand smoke to heart attacks makes it even more clear that tobacco use is harming people who do not smoke,” said Health Undersecretary Alex Padilla in a press conference.
“We also know that we can stop this trend by eliminating exposure among innocent mothers, fathers, children, neighbors and colleagues,” he added.
“Tobacco is taking a devastating toll on the Philippines and people are dying every day, even those who don’t use tobacco. The way to reverse this epidemic is through proven policies such as creating 100 percent smoke-free public places and work places,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.