Campaigns vs threats to nat’l health

Published November 25, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

Drugs, tobacco smoking, vaping, sugar, salt – these have been in the news lately. There are moves to ban them or limit their use because of the health risks they pose to the general population, leading to complications of various kinds.

Drugs are an old problem around the world. From the start of his administration, President Duterte launched a drive to eliminate it in the country, only to find that it is so widespread that police efforts against it have met with so much violence.

Smoking has long been known to cause lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), stroke, and asthma, due to chemicals that are released as the cigarette burns, but addiction is so widespread due to the nicotine in tobacco.

Vaping was invented to help tobacco smokers stop their vice, with smoke but not from burning. But it still contains nicotine that causes addiction and last week, President Duterte prohibited vaping in public after a teenager contracted a lung illness blamed on vaping.

Too much sugar increases the risk of diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay. Many healthy foods like milk, vegetables, and fruit naturally contain sugar, but it becomes a health risk when it is added in great quantities to soft drinks, causing weight gain and increasing the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Too much salt can raise blood pressure and the risk of heart disease and stroke. There is now a move to increase the tax on salty foods –just like taxes on alcohol and tobacco – but salt happens to be the main preservative of ”tuyo” and “daing,” the common food of poor folk in the Philippines, and the move has thus met with considerable opposition.

The government’s drive against illegal drugs is total but dealing in drugs is so lucrative that criminal elements keep it up in the face of the most determined government campaign. The country has some 4.8 million drug users, according to the Dangerous Drugs Board. The effort to stop drugs will occupy many administrations of the Philippine government.

The campaigns against smoking, vaping, and overconsumption of sugar and salt should be comparatively easier, but these pose considerable health risks and dangers and they should be pushed with continuing energy and persistence in the interest of national health.