THE number of Filipino smokers fell by 1.1 million to 15.9 million in 2015 from 17 million in 2009, and mainly as a result of the higher taxes on tobacco products, The Health department said Monday.
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial cited the 2015 Philippines’ Global Adult Survey that said the prevalence of tobacco use among Filipinos 15 years and above had dropped to 23.8 percent in 2015 from 29.7 percent in 2009.
“One million Filipinos have quit tobacco use, the biggest decline we have seen in Philippine history, and we can do more to stop the suffering caused by this epidemic,” Ubial told reporters at the Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros, Manila.
She said the decline meant at least a million Filipinos now had a lower risk of developing cancer, heart ailments, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
She said the increase in the prices of tobacco products due to the imposition of heavier taxes starting in 2013 caused the decline in tobacco use, which would likely reduce the P188 billion in losses annually from tobacco-related hospitalization and lower productivity.
“The GATS Philippines 2015 data also indicated that the proportion of Filipino smokers with intent to quit has become higher,” Ubial said.
She said the number of victims of second-hand smoke at home had dropped to 34 percent in 2015 from 54 percent in 2009, and in the workplace to 21 percent in 2015 from 32 percent in 2009. .
But the survey said exposure to second-hand smoke remained high at 86 percent in bars and nightclubs and at 33.6 percent in restaurants.
Ubial said the Sin Tax Law or Republic Act 10351 made cigarette products inaccessible to the public, especially to the poor and the youth.
She said the progress in tobacco control policies and advocacy should be pushed further by maintaining the tax structure for tobacco products. With PNA