Want to live longer? Take President Duterte’s advice

By Genalyn Kabiling

Stop smoking and live longer.

President Duterte has given this advice to smokers especially the young ones after noticing the high tobacco consumption despite higher sin taxes.

President Rodrigo Duterte attends the barangay summit on peace and order at Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay on January 8, 2019. (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)
President Rodrigo Duterte attends the barangay summit on peace and order at Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay on January 8, 2019. (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The President, a former smoker, has warned about the health risks of smoking, saying cigarette users could end up getting diseases such as lung cancer.

“Ilan ang naninigarilyo dito? Huwag kayong mahiya. Pulis barilin mo kung sino ang magtaas ng kamay. Akong bahala sa iyo [How many smokers are present here? Don’t be shy. Police, shoot those who will raise their hand. I’ll take care of you],” he said in jest during the barangay summit on peace and order in Pasay City last Tuesday.

Turning serious, the President said: “Sinabi ko na nga you know you either go emphysema or cancer, period.”
Duterte, who has banned smoking in public places across the country, mentioned that his father died young due to the dirty habit. “My father was smoking two packs. Sabi ko ito patay ito sigurado. He died at the age of 56,” he said.

He also disclosed that his erstwhile political rival former House Speaker Prospero Nograles was also in the hospital due to smoking-related illness. “Nandiyan man sa ospital, sa ICU naman. You know but at that time noong kaibigan pa kami sabi ko, ‘Adre, p*** you are smoking yourself to death,'” he said, recalling his conversation with Nograles.

The President, however, lamented that there has been no marked improvement in the reduction of smoking among Filipinos despite the implementation of higher sin taxes.

“Kita mo ‘yung ngayon mga new generation pati ‘yang bata na babae naninigarilyo. Napilitan talaga ako sabihin sa Davao na walang smoking. Wala talagang naninigarilyo maski sa daan. Bawal talaga [Look at the new generation, even young women are smoking. I was forced to ban smoking in Davao. No one smokes in public paces. It’s not allowed],” he said.

“And yet there is no improvement. Why? Nakikita namin sa sales sa sin taxes. Taasan mo na ‘yung alcohol, taasan mo na lahat ‘yung ano — ang sales ano pa rin pati ‘yung kita ng gobyerno [We saw the sales from sin taxes. Even if you increase taxes on alcohol and others, the sales and government revenues are still high],” he said.

The President recently agreed to certify as urgent a bill increase the excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products to raise revenues for the government universal health care program. The measure also seeks to reduce deaths and disabilities due to alcohol and tobacco consumption, according to the Palace.

Duterte, who gave up smoking due to health concerns, previously issued an executive order banning smoking in public places and setting strict guidelines on designated smoking areas. It was a similar restriction imposed in the President’s hometown of Davao City when Duterte was mayor for more than two decades.