In observance of June as “National No Smoking Month,” the Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday urged students of Felipe G. Calderon High School in Tondo to stay away from tobacco-related products and even “vaping” that might lead to long-term addiction.
Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial said there was no more compelling argument in favor of tobacco use given the harmful effects of smoking on adolescents.
She cited the Global Youth Survey that found a significant increase in the number of those who started smoking at ages 13 to 15 between 2011 and 2015.
“Studies have shown that most young people who smoke regularly continue to smoke throughout adulthood and fall prey to being replacement smokers of the tobacco industry,” Ubial said.
“This creates a vicious cycle of young tobacco users and unhealthy future adult population,” she added.
Ubial however said she was confident the youth knows how and when to not give in to pressure from peers.
“We know our youth are in control. A single puff may hook you for the rest of your life and chain you to various diseases,” she said.
“By the time you reach adulthood, tobacco will take its toll on you – stroke, heart diseases, lung diseases and cancer in almost anywhere in your body. Those are risks you would not be happy taking,” she added.
‘Vape is still tobacco’
The Health secretary also discouraged the use of electronic cigarettes or “vapes,” saying they contain almost the same chemicals used in cigarettes. She also said vaping leads to more serious addiction to tobacco.
“We released an advisory from the Food and Drug Administration that the products and components used in vape are still tobacco. So it still contains the 7,000 dangerous chemicals that are found in cigarettes,” she said.
“They say that [electronic cigarettes]are a safer alternative but we in the health sector say there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. So even if it has a small amount of tobacco, it is still not safe,” she added.
Ubial, citing Executive Order (EO) 26 by President Rodrigo Duterte, reiterated that smoking in public places and public conveyances – schools workplaces, sidewalks, and public vehicles are prohibited. The sale of tobacco products to minors is also banned.
The DOH is set to release the implementing rules of EO 26 in July.