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Doctors plan to use stars who smoke in campaign

By: - Reporter / @mj_uyINQ
/ 02:57 AM October 03, 2011

A group of doctors plans to tap show biz celebrities to help advocate for a healthy lifestyle in a smoke-free environment.

The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) recently decided to tap entertainment icons as “role models” against tobacco use, “since they draw a larger following than doctors do,” said Dr. Mike Aragon, head of the PMA media affairs group.

The idea was also broached after the PMA, an umbrella organization of practicing doctors in the country, issued a statement criticizing the October issue of “Yes! Magazine,” which showed on its cover veteran actress Nora Aunor with a cigarette in her hand. The group was also disturbed by the cover of Rogue Magazine showing young star Anne Curtis, also holding a cigarette.

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“Even if we speak a hundred times about the dangers of smoking, these young people won’t listen to us,” said Aragon in a phone interview with the Inquirer on Saturday.  “But if a Piolo Pascual or an Anne Curtis would do the talking, they would start paying attention,” he said.

The PMA cited various studies establishing the strong influence of show biz personalities and the mass media on teenage smoking.

“Since the effect of media and entertainment personalities on adolescent smoking is big, we are going to form a group of role models and icons who can set a good example to the Filipino youth,” said Aragon.

The PMA has also passed a resolution banning its own members from smoking and requiring them to inform their patients about the clear and present dangers of smoking.

Among the actors and actresses the group is eyeing to help in its antitobacco campaign are Aunor and Curtis themselves—if the group  gets  their commitment to stop smoking, said Aragon.

He added that running priest Fr. Robert Reyes, also an antismoking advocate, had already talked to Aunor late last week, in which the latter supposedly gave her commitment to quit smoking “in due time” and to personally campaign for the group’s cause.

The PMA has also offered to extend professional help to aid the veteran actress, who came back from the United States after eight years, in kicking the habit.

“Smoking cessation is really hard, anyone who decides to quit smoking really needs help,” said the doctor.

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There are 17.3 million smokers among the Philippines’ 90 million population.

A recent survey conducted by antismoking group HealthJustice Philippines showed that 33.7 percent of 435 students from eight public high schools in Quezon City can burn through three to 10 cigarette packs a month; 28 percent could finish one to three packs, while 20 percent could smoke 10 packs a month. With a report from Cynthia Balana

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TAGS: Anti-smoking Campaign, Health, Philippine Medical Association, Smoking
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