Why you need to quit smoking

23 February 2017:

by Henrylito B. Tacio

After staying for a few days in a hospital last December due to asthmatic bronchitis, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada announced in February that he would intensify the implementation of the banning of smoking within the area of his responsibility. 

“We will start at the city hall,” the former actor who became president of the country was quoted as saying by national media. “I enjoin everyone, from rank-and-file employees to department heads and even city councilors, to comply with this antismoking ordinance. We will be very strict.”

He wanted his constituents to follow him as an example in quitting the habit. “Love your heart, quit smoking. For the sake of your family and loved ones, stop smoking. It won’t do any good.” Estrada reportedly told his public information officer, Mikee Falcis.

Estrada is trying to follow what Davao City has accomplished. Davao City implements to the fullest City Ordinance 0367-12, otherwise known as the New Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance of Davao City.

“Welcome to Davao City!” the flight stewardess usually say upon landing at the Davao International Airport. “We want to remind our passengers in that smoking is strictly prohibited in public places in the city, including the airport and its premises.”

Yes, no one is allowed to smoke cigarettes in Davao City. You won’t see people puffing cigarettes while striding along the sidewalks. You won’t see children selling cigarettes in heavily traffic streets. Even inside the public utilities, cinemas, malls, restaurants, and bars.

Not only that. People are also strictly prohibited to smoke in public gatherings like concerts, rallies, and parades. Even in the cemetery, markets and terminals, the no smoking policy is strictly followed.

Damn, smokers who come to the city may say. But wait, there are some places where you can smoke your heart’s content. These are in your own residence or in someone’s, in private vehicles, and designated outdoor smooking areas.

A 2014 report by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, nearly a third of adult population in the country – around 17 million Filipinos! – smoke. It comes second as having the most numbers of smokers – after Indonesia.

“Nearly half of all Filipino men and 9 percent of women smoke and experts say the habit costs the economy nearly US$4 billion in healthcare and productivity losses every year,” said a Reuters dispatch.

Although Republic Act No. 9211, otherwise known as the “Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003,” prohibits any person under the age of 18 to purchase, sell or smoke tobacco products, it has been found by a survey that children as young as five years old are already starting to smoke.

Most Filipinos preferred cigarette compared with other tobacco products. Studies show that an adult smoker consumes 838 cigarettes, equating to about 42 cigarette packs, per year.

Why so much ado about cigarette smoking? For the uninformed, it is responsible for 85 to 90 percent of lung cancers, medical experts claim. The more cigarettes a person smokes, the greater the chances of this fellow having a lung cancer. As early as 1964, the US Surgeon General’s office issued the link between smoking and lung cancer.

“Lung cancer is almost exclusively found in smokers,” the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research based in Rochester, Minnesota explains. “Men who smoke are 22 times more likely to develop lung cancer than men who don’t smoke. Women who smoke are 12 times more likely to develop lung cancer than women who don’t smoke.”

Cigarette and cigar smoke contains more than 40 cancer-causing chemicals or carcinogens. Among these most noted carcinogens are tar, cyanide, formaldehyde, methanol, ammonia, acetone, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxide.

The World Health Organization estimates that 10 Filipinos die every hour due to cancer, stroke, lung, and heart diseases brought on by cigarette smoking.

So, you want to quit smoking? You can listen to the words American humorist Mark Twain: “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousand of times!”

Canadian film actor John Candy dismissed it also humorously. “Hey, I stopped smoking cigarettes,” he said. “Isn’t that something?” I’m on to cigars now. I’m on to a five-year plan. I eliminated cigarettes, then I go to cigars, then I go to pipes, then I go to chewing tobacco, then I’m on to that nicotine gum.”

When it comes to smoking it, usually those who quit that emerge winners. Dr. Willie T. Ong, author of several health books and active consultant in cardiology at the Manila Doctors Hospital and Makati Medical Center, said a person who quits smoking will immediately get his rewards instantly.

Citing a study done by the American Lung Association, Ong said the health benefits of quitting will “begin just 20 minutes after your last cigarette. Your blood pressure and heart rate will decrease, and the oxygen content of your body will increase.”

After the first day of quitting, a previous smoker’s risk of suffering a heart attack will be reduced. On the second day, his nerve endings will start to heal and his ability to smell and taste will improve. Between two weeks and three months after quitting, his blood circulation will improve. His cough will be lessened and walking will become easier. Soon his lung function will improve dramatically.

“By the time you reach 15 years of never touching a cigarette, your risk of dying will be the same as a non-smoker,” Ong pointed out. “This just goes to show that the ill effects of smoking are serious and deadly. Quit early and quit now. Quit while ou are still young to obtain the full health benefits from quitting.”

For some people, quitting smoking is easier.  But for most, is it easier said than done. Ong cited three factors responsible for the difficulty in quitting. “Knowing these factors will help you prepare yourself for the quitting process,” he said.

The factors were:

  • the number of cigarettes being smoked each day,
  • the people who smoke around the person who want to quit, and
  • the real reason on why the person smokes. “It could be due to peer pressure or for weight control,” Ong said of the latter.

“If you really want to quit smoking, you must identify the situations that trigger you to smoke, and do your best to avoid them,” Ong suggested. 

Source: Business World Special Report, p. 7 Health & Fitness