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Graphic health warnings, taxes make over 1M Pinoys quit smoking

/ 01:09 AM March 21, 2017
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial shows cigarette brands during a news conference inQuezon City. —NINO JESUS ORBETA

Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial shows cigarette brands during a news conference in Quezon City. —NINO JESUS ORBETA

More than 1 million Filipinos have kicked the smoking habit, according to the latest Philippines’ Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), the global standard protocol in monitoring adult tobacco use.

In a press briefing on Monday, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said a number of tobacco control interventions, particularly taxation, has led to a significant drop in current smokers from 17 million in 2009 to 15.9 million in 2015.

“This figure represents a relative reduction of close to 20 percent of smokers. Or in simpler terms, 1 million Filipinos have quit tobacco use—the biggest decline we have seen in Philippine history, and we can do more to stop the suffering caused by this epidemic,” Ubial said.

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She said other measures that had contributed to the decline in smoking were graphic health warnings, local ordinances and advocacy of the health sector in strong partnership with civil society.

“The decrease in the number of smokers as well as exposures to secondhand smoke was due to increase in the prices of tobacco products brought about by the Sin Tax Reform Law of 2012, among other things. Cigarette products have become more inaccessible to the public, especially to the poor and the youth,” Ubial said.

“We look forward to more positive outcomes from Republic Act 10351 in the long run,” she said.

She noted that the reduction in tobacco use translated to a million Filipinos at lower risk for cancer, heart disease, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

A total of 11,644 were interviewed for GATS 2015, with a response rate of 92 percent.

Citing the results of the survey, Ubial said that currently, only 15.9 Filipino adults smoked tobacco—40.3 percent among men, 5.1 percent among women.

“Smoking among women declined by close to 50 percent—also a sign that measures to counteract smoking among women are working,” Ubial said.

Aside from the number of smokers, victims of second-hand smoke have also gone down significantly in homes, from 54 percent in 2009 to 34 percent in 2015; and in the workplaces, from 32 percent in 2009 to 21 percent in 2015.

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TAGS: Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, Philippine news updates, Philippines’ Global Adult Tobacco Survey sin taxes, Smoking
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