THE Philippines will continue to be Southeast Asia’s second largest tobacco consumers if young Filipinos are not stopped from smoking, warns the New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP).
“Over the years we have seen how tobacco companies increase their presence in Southeast Asia as it becomes more difficult for them to market their products in high-income regions. A big part of their strategy is to target the youth as replacement smokers for adults who fall ill and die of this habit,” said NVAP President Emer Rojas.
According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS), more than one in four Filipino children aged 13 to 15 are smokers.
It is estimated that 55 percent of Filipino youth are exposed to secondhand smoke at home while 65 percent get it in public places.
Rojas said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is an important market to tobacco companies because 10 percent of the world’s 1.25 billion adult smokers are in this region.
The Philippines is the second largest tobacco consumer in the Asean next to Indonesia with 17.3 million Filipino adults smoking. It is believed that majority of them have started the vice at a young age.
Ten Filipinos die every hour due to smoking, the single most preventable risk factor for cancer and other non-communicable diseases.
“If we want to slow down smoking, we must arm the youth with information and establish strong tobacco control systems that will protect them from taking up this deadly habit,” Rojas said.
NVAP will hold a youth forum on February 12 at the 2nd floor of the Marikina Convention Center to discuss the effects of smoking among young Filipinos.