Substance use and vices have primarily declined in the youth in the year 2021 compared to consumption in earlier years.
This was indicated in a study conducted by the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI).
Key findings by the 2021 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS5) identified drinking, smoking, and using illegal drugs as the main vices seen in the youth of today. Three out of 10 young adult Filipinos are currently drinking, one out of 10 are smoking, and nearly none are engaging in illegal drug use.
“From 1994 to 2013, close to four in 10 youth were drinking, but the percentage declined to 29% in 2021. Some 45% of drinkers said they were drinking less during the pandemic, while 65% said they want to stop drinking,” The press release by UPPI stated.
Since 1994, the YAFS has been monitoring young Filipinos’ substance use mainly alcohol, nicotine, and illicit drugs. They have deemed the latest data as having a positive impact on the youth’s non-sexual risk behaviors.
The study also showed that in 2021, two percent of Filipino smokers are young adult females, while 23 percent are young adult males. Forty-three percent of alcohol consumers, on the other hand, have been identified to be young adult males, while 17 percent are young adult females.
Despite this decline, however, an alarming 16 percent of Filipino youth have found themselves engaged in vaping which comes with its own health risks.
Some young adults had expressed that their decision to decrease their vices is strongly affiliated with not only the price hike but also their hazardous effects on human health.
“You need to save money a lot, hence the hobbies, vices or something else are really decreasing, which you really need to minimize because we need more of our essentials,” Kevin Tolentino, a vape user, stated in a GMA news interview.
A smoker also explained that the pandemic had played a big factor in his smoking habits.
“The pandemic has actually reduced my smoking quite by a lot. I think there was a time during the pandemic where I didn’t smoke for 3 months and I think that’s the longest I’ve gone without smoking,” Sheldon, 22, told reporters.
He also said that the thought of quitting smoking has crossed his mind “Whenever I smoke a lot and start to get headaches, I tell myself that maybe I should stop smoking and contemplate quitting,” he added.
As the study claims, the youth were confined at home during the pandemic which resulted in an increase in involvement in more sedentary activities.
According to the Department of Health, the juice from electronic cigarettes has a high level of addictive nicotine, which can lead to acute or fatal poisoning through ingestion. The Philippine Pediatric Society has also shared the same sentiments as previously released in a statement, claiming that e-cigarettes are strongly addictive and can possibly lead to cancer.
“Nicotine impairs maximum development of their brain, making them vulnerable to engage in deleterious habits which threaten their health and more so, making them at risk to try other dangerous substances,” a statement on the society’s official website reads.
“We cannot allow our children and our youth to be exposed to the harmful effects of e-cigarettes. In the US, they have reported the health hazards of e-cigarettes in the young population i.e. vape-induced lung injuries, seizure, early onset cardiovascular diseases, poisoning, and accidental explosions. The same scenario may happen in our country, and these health problems in the young due to e-cigarettes will add up to the burden of health care in our country,” The society concluded.
Based on the Philippine Statistics Authority’s study, in March 2019, “The increment in the index of beverages and tobacco in March 2019 at 0.4 percent was slower compared with its previous month’s rate of 1.0 percent. Higher prices noted in selected alcoholic beverages during the period were tempered by the price decreases in selected cigarettes.”
By December 2020, the prices of alcoholic beverages and tobacco increased by 16.1 percent.
In December of the previous year, the PSA said that “lower annual increments were observed in the indices” with tobacco and alcoholic beverages at 6.2 percent. They also claimed that “slower annual average inflation rates were observed in the following commodity groups in 2021,” with tobacco and alcoholic beverages at 11.1%.
In the National Capital Region (NCR), the prices for alcoholic beverages and tobacco had slowed down by following the annual hikes during the month of December 2021 by 7.6 percent. For the areas outside of NCR (AONCR), the prices had slowed down as well by 6.2 percent.
The government, with encouragement from civil society groups, has already taken action against the issue of substance abuse in the form of excessive consumption through the passing of the Sin Tax Law of 2012. It aims to curb tobacco and alcohol consumption.