Group urges smokers to quit; cites the risks of fatal diseases


HealthJustice Philippines, a non-profit organization, reiterated its call for smokers to kick the bad habit as they expressed concern for non-smokers who are exposed to equally deadly second-hand smoke while staying at home due to the threat of Covid-19 and its variants, in particular Delta.

Due to the restricted movement of people, HealthJustice feared that staying at home would give people more chances to smoke, which would expose family members, especially children, to secondhand smoke.

“According to the World Health Organization [WHO], Department of Health [DOH], health experts and scientists, there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. That is why we must first think about our health and the measures to avoid the harmful effects of the consumption of heated cigarettes and tobacco products and of vaping, ”said lawyer Benedict G. Nisperos, legal consultant for HealthJustice Philippines.

For his part, former Health Secretary Jaime Galvez -Tan, administrator of HealthJustice Philippines, warned that exposure to secondhand smoke can have devastating effects on the heart.

“During this Covid-19 pandemic, we should be making our homes smoke-free for tobacco use and second-hand smoke can cause serious health risks like heart disease,” said Dr Galvez -Tan.

Smoking is the second leading cause of cardiovascular disease, according to the WHO [CVD] after high blood pressure, smoking and secondhand smoke contributing to about 12 percent of all heart disease deaths worldwide.

Meanwhile, the DOH said ischemic heart disease or “hardening of the arteries” continues to be the leading cause of death in the Philippines with more than 74,000 cases recorded in 2016.

It may be noted that the chemicals in cigarette smoke cause the blood to thicken and increase the risk of blood clots.

Exposure to smoke

Dr Galvez-Tan also said that smokers and vapers would be at high risk of contracting Covid-19, “and therefore you should not breathe air from someone else’s lungs” because that person has may have contracted the disease.

“Another problem with smoking, vaping, and exposure to secondhand smoke and aerosols is that they increase the risks associated with transmitting the Covid-19 virus,” said Dr Galvez -Tan.

Prior to the pandemic, the 2015 Global Adult Smoking Survey (GATS) – Philippines showed that exposure to secondhand smoke is widespread in public places, especially bars and nightclubs at 86% .

Tobacco exposure has been linked to 87,000 annual deaths among Filipinos, more than the number of deaths from HIV / AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

Exposure to second-hand smoke was also found to be 38% prevalent on public transport; followed by restaurants at 22 percent. Other public places also affected by second-hand smoke are found in government buildings at 13%; schools at 11 percent; and health facilities at 4 percent.

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