10 Filipinos die hourly due to smoking-related illnesses – Drilon
MANILA, Philippines – Ten Filipinos die every hour from smoking-related illnesses, Senate President Franklin Drilon said Monday as he co-sponsored a bill requiring picture warnings on cigarette packaging with the aim of reducing smoking incidence in the country.
“Our Department of Health (DOH) estimates that 87,000 Filipinos succumb annually from complications caused by cigarette smoking. In other words, ten Filipinos die every hour from cigarette-smoking related illnesses,” Drilon said in his sponsorship speech of the measure.
“The research also indicates that one out of two Filipinos who smoke will die earlier than the average life expectancy. Further, cigarette-smoking costs our society an estimated P188 billion in annual health care expenses and productivity losses,” he said.
Senator Pia Cayetano, the primary author of Senate Bill no. 27 also known as the “Picture-Based Health Warning Law,” said that this is the third time she has sponsored the bill in the Senate.
In the Philippines, 34.8 percent are smokers and that cigarettes rank among the top expenditures of poor families.
“In 2003, the poor spent roughly P92 per month for tobacco which accounts for the 2.5 percent of their monthly spending compared to clothing, education and heath,” Cayetano said.
“61.1 percent of the money they spend on cigarettes can buy an additional kilo of meat or fish, or an additional 22 chicken eggs or 53 pieces of bananas,” she said.
Textual warning on cigarette packaging are not as effective as picture warnings and at least 15 countries already have laws mandating the use of picture warnings to show the negative effects of smoking.
“A study revealed that [picture] health warnings are 60 times more effective in terms of encouraging cessation and prevention than text-only labels,” Cayetano said.
“The use of pictures and graphics will also effectively convey the message to those with literacy problems,” she said.
Cayetano said that tobacco products that are manufactured in the Philippines but exported to Singapore and Thailand carry picture warnings because they already have such laws and yet products that are manufactured in those countries but exported to the Philippines don’t carry the picture warnings.
Drilon said that the bill, if passed, would spare future generations from the “devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.”
“With the decrease in the incidence of smoking in our country, there would be a corresponding drop in the number of smoking-related deaths and diseases. Ultimately, the passage of this proposed measure will bring closer to our goal of protecting the present and future generations,” he said.
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