MANILA, Philippines - After offering to help Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III quit his smoking habit through therapy last year, a tobacco control group is now asking the presidential frontrunner to be a poster boy for the government's anti-smoking campaign.
The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP) said Aquino, a strong force in the 2010 polls, can "make a difference and uphold public health" if he can show the public that he can kick his nicotine habit.
|Poster boy? Aquino, a known smoker, is asked to kick his nicotine habit. Credit: ABS-CBN
"We deserve a healthy leader who will be able to fulfill his promise of righteous governance," FCAP executive director Dr. Maricar Limpin said.
"We urge Senator Aquino to do an Obama who is also a smoker but instituted a breakthrough policy on stricter regulations for tobacco products that are known to contain chemicals causing cancer and other fatal diseases," she added.
Smoking is one habit that Aquino shares with Barack Obama, whose successful campaign for the US presidency is considered a momentous political phenomenon. Like Aquino, the US President is also struggling to get rid of his smoking habit since 2006.
Last March, Aquino admitted in a television interview that he would have to quit smoking if he wins in the May 10 polls.
"Sa vices, I assume 'yung smoking ko will eventually go. Hopefully ma-weather natin 'yung pressures with the job that we can give it up sooner rather than later," he said.
Aside from Aquino, FCAP is targeting women to be part of its anti-tobacco campaign.
Along with the Department of Health, Philippine College of Chest Physicians and WomenHealth Philippines, FCAP will hold a fun run and cycling event on May 30 at the Quezon Memorial Circle to celebrate World No Tobacco Day.
"With the increasing threat of smoking epidemic among women in the third-world countries, particularly in the Philippines, the theme of this year's World No Tobacco Day cannot be more compelling than it is now," Limpin said.
FCAP's campaign aims to highlight the tobacco industry's marketing strategies that lure more women into smoking.
The group calls on women to stand firm and fight off any effort of the industry to interfere with the government's tobacco control efforts.