Group asks Noynoy to quit smoking

by Maria Althea Teves,

Posted at Sep 14 2009 04:41 PM | Updated as of Sep 16 2009 04:30 AM

MANILA - A tobacco control group offered to help Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III quit his smoking habit through therapy on Monday.

“We offer to help presidential candidate Senator Aquino quit smoking to be able to withstand the rigorous campaigning ahead and more importantly, to set a veritable program to upload public health by offering to kick the deadly habit,” Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP) statement read.

“We offer, if we may, the same advice to the good Senator. Quitting entails a lot of sacrifice and we have a battery of experts who can very well take care of him,” FCAP Executive Director Dr. Maricar Limpin said in a statement.  

Limpin is a pulmonologist and a member of the Philippine College of Chest Physicians, the group that launched smoking cessation therapy programs with the Department of Health's local government units.

The program helps patients cope with the side effects of quitting smoking.

FCAP’s statement was released after Makati Mayor Jejomary Binay, a friend of the Aquino family, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the Senator should quit smoking.

Binay’s unsolicited advice

According to the Inquirer report, Binay said that “it is not appealing to the eyes to see a leader smoking.”

He added that “when it comes to his smoking habit, he is not setting a good example to the public.”

Binay said United States President Barack Obama is a good example for Aquino, since the former was a chain smoker who is now trying to quit.

The mayor said in the Inquirer report that Aquino’s smoking may be the reason why he was seen coughing in the middle of his speech at Club Filipino, where he announced that he is running for President in 2010.

FCAP Director Limpin lauded Mayor Binay on the “unsolicited advice” he gave.

Cigarette smoking hazards

FCAP’s statement explained the dangers of cigarette smoking. A cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 known chemical compounds harmful to a person’s health, according to the group’s statement.

FCAP cited a 2004 study published in the British Medical Journal that found exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of heart diseases among non-smokers by as much as 60%.

Smoke-free public places, tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, effective health warning in cigarette packs and increase in tobacco taxes are among the laws FCAP has been pushing for to help limit the practice of smoking in the country.

Campaign funds

FCAP, in another statement, urged Senator Aquino not to accept campaign funds from members of the tobacco industry who will “surely ask for political favors later.”

“If Senator Aquino is seriously considering his presidential bid, he has to take the necessary steps for clean, fair and effective governance. First and foremost of which is to get rid of the dirty baggage,” Limpin said in a press statement.

Limpin added that they “have seen all forms of pressure from these (tobacco industry) camps to block health and other tobacco control measures in the executive and legislative branches.”

Several government leaders since 1986 have failed to rebuff funding offers by Lucio Tan, owner of Fortune Tobacco, Philip Morris Manufacturing Inc., and other business that “exert formidable influence in the country's political institutions,” Limpin said. Report by Maria Althea Teves,