MANILA, Philippines - Participants to the Tobacco Control Summit 2011 organized by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP) and the Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP) were one in their call for President Benigno Aquino III to stop smoking and lead the Philippines into becoming a tobacco-free country.
FCAP board member Bobby del Rosario and and Dr. Rlorante Trinidad, technical officer of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Tobacco-Free Initiative, said although Aquino may have difficulty in stopping from smoking, he should at least declare that smoking is bad for one's health and support anti-smoking policies.
FCAP also called on the President to rid Filipinos of the harmful effects of second-hand smoke by enacting laws that will prevent smoking in public.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Department of Health are alarmed over the increasing number of smokers in the Philippines.
Despite tobacco control efforts in the country, 17.3 million Filipinos now smoke, and almost 2/3 of the adults and children are exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke.
Trinidad said tobacco use is rising in the country, as shown by the number of Filipinos aged 13-15 years old who are currently smoking, which increased to 22.7% from only 15.9% in 2003.
He said the trend is also noticeable among young girls.
Tobacco kills 87,600 Filipinos per year, and 240 deaths are recorded every day, he said.
Trinidad added that 1/3 of them are men in the most productive age of their lives.
He said the increasing number of smokers is a consistent trend in developing countries like the Philippines, whose anti-smoking laws are not as strict as those in developed countries.