THE Department of Health (DoH) is set to launch on Monday a television advertisement as one of its instruments to curb tobacco use, according to Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial.
The advertisement, which was shown to media on Friday, is one of the approaches adopted by the department in its campaign against smoking which cost the country around P188 billion in healthcare and productivity losses in 2012.
Other approaches include implementing the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Convention on Tobacco Control, the Sin Tax Law, and the recent Graphic Health Warnings Law that will be fully implemented on November 4.
The advertisement is a 30-second narrative about a young girl who worries about her future because her father is dying from a smoking-related disease.
Vital Strategies, the partner of DOH in the production of the advertisement, believes the ad will help Filipino smokers quit.
Studies show that almost half of adult male Filipinos and nine percent of adult females (2.8 million) are smokers.
More than 70,000 Filipinos die every year because of smoking-related diseases. The figure translates to eight Filipinos dying every hour.
This advertisement, however, will only be shown in certain areas. Kaloi Garcia, Vital Strategies’ communications manager, identified the provinces in “regions 6 and 7 and maybe the Davao region and Bicol region.”
Ubial said the advertisement will only be shown in regions 6 and 7 because these areas have “very active” campaigns against smoking. She explained that this improves the chances of the campaign’s success.
Ubial and Garcia admitted, however, that the campaign will be difficult.
“Whether it is difficult or not, we have to implement it,” said Ubial.
“We implement it because it saves lives,” she added.
Around 3,000 non-smoking adult Filipinos die each year because of inhaled secondhand smoke.
The government hopes to reduce this number with the implementation of a nationwide ban on smoking in public places. A draft of the Administrative Order has been submitted by the department to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Ubial said the government wants establishments to protect the welfare of non-smokers.
The draft order did not impose monetary penalty but in Davao, people caught smoking in public are fined P10,000, she said.
If signed, Ubial said she will urge municipalities to create a separate task force that will monitor the implementation of the smoking ban.
Cities, towns and municipalities can set their own monetary sanctions through ordinances.
Ubial said the use of e-cigarettes in public areas will also be banned because e-cigarettes are considered nicotine delivery devices.
The DOH has yet to find out if e-cigarettes are harmful to non-smokers who inhale smoke or vapors but these gadgets are seen as “still harmful to the individual,” said Ubial.