Editorial | Living without tobacco

Consider these facts: “The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing more than 7 million people a year.

More than 6 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 890 000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

“Around 80% of the 1.1 billion smokers worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is heaviest.

“Tobacco users who die prematurely deprive their families of income, raise the cost of health care and hinder economic development.”

Davao City has trailblazed in implementing an anti-smoking ordinance in 2002 which was later expanded in 2012 as the New Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance of Davao. It bans smoking in public transportation, accommodation and entertainment establishments, workplaces, enclosed public places and buildings, and public outdoor spaces. Establishments may put up designated areas, with certificate of compliance from the Office of the City Mayor through the Anti-Smoking Task Force. These areas should be in open spaces not larger than 5 square meters, be at least 10 meters from entry / exit and convergence points, and have a prominently displayed “SMOKING AREA” sign.

The scope of the ordinance includes the smoking of tobacco products, shisha, electronic cigarettes, or any similar device.

There are no available figures to show the impact of the ordinance on the use of tobacco but we can only assume that we have lesser smokers now than let’s say, 10 years ago.

Smokers are also mindful of their habit, which may have played a part in weaning them away from tobacco.

Last year, President Duterte wanted to replicate the Davao City experience, signing an executive order on May 16, prohibiting smoking in enclosed public spaces and public utility vehicles and only allowing smoking in designated smoking areas.

The EO also prohibits the selling, distribution, and purchasing of tobacco products from minors, and minors are not allowed to smoke, sell or buy cigarettes or other tobacco products.

Cardiovascular diseases, not to mention cancer and other diseases related to smoking are bad enough. Worse is that second-hand smoke kills as well. Public health is a priority as the growth of our country relies on a population that is not sick and unproductive.

Monitoring of this EO’s compliance in the country should be undertaken by health agencies.

Posted in Opinion