Press Release/ 03 June 2019

The Department of Health (DOH), in coordination with the World Health Organization and other partner agencies, observes May 31 as World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) while the whole month of June is designated as the National No Smoking Month under Proclamation No. 183 s. 1993.

The WNTD is observed annually to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and to advocate for effective tobacco control policies. This year, the event will focus on tobacco use and how tobacco affects lung health.

In the last 2015 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), data showed that 16.6 M (23.8%) of the total adult population were current tobacco users, whereas the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) revealed that 1.1 M (16%) of students ages 13-15 were current tobacco users.

Tobacco, both direct use and exposure to secondhand smoke, has been causally linked to the development of 47 diseases (USDHHS, Surgeon General Report, 2004, 2006, 2012). The Philippine Health Statistics reported that diseases such as Malignant Neoplasms, Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases, Tuberculosis and Pneumonia are among the top causes of deaths in the Philippines from 2010 to 2015. Malignant neoplasm of the larynx, trachea, bronchus and lungs taken collectively is the top leading cause of death among all types of cancer in the country. WHO has estimated that tobacco use is currently responsible for the death of about six million people across the world each year with many of these deaths occurring prematurely.

The Graphic Health Warnings which help increase awareness on the ill-effects of tobacco; and Sin Tax on tobacco and alcohol products have been identified as cost-effective strategies being employed by the Government. Recently, the DOH and Department of Finance made a final push for the outgoing Congress to further raise ‘sin’ taxes on tobacco and alcohol to close a cumulative funding gap estimated at around P426 billion over the next five years for the full and proper implementation of the Universal Health Care program, a law that was signed last February to ensure a better, healthier life for Filipinos, which is in accordance with President Duterte’s agenda to build a healthier nation and improve living standards nationwide. Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III emphasized that revenues gathered from ‘sin’ taxes provide the much-needed financing to help reform the health sector, deliver PhilHealth coverage to poor Filipinos, scale up the DOH’s non-communicable disease prevention services, and extend aid to the country’s tobacco farmers.

Tobacco control must be a priority of the government and communities worldwide. Parents and other members of the community should also take measures to promote their own health, and that of their children, by protecting them from the harms caused by tobacco.

“The DOH joins the global campaign of calling to action, advocating for effective tobacco control policies, and engaging stakeholders across multiple sectors in the fight against tobacco,” the health chief concluded.