Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has called on the government to heighten its campaign on the adverse effects of continued use of cigarette and tobacco products to discourage young Filipinos from taking up smoking habits and also the reduce risk of COVID-19 infection.
In a webinar with student leaders, the Senate committee on basic education, arts and culture head emphasized that there are three important steps for a smoke-free Philippines: fight the heavy lobby from the tobacco industry, transition tobacco farmers to planting sustainable high-quality crops, and dissuade the youth from smoking.
“I’m in support of the advocacy to make our campuses, offices, restaurants, and enclosed public places smoke-free,” Gatchalian said.
“I really believe that our country would be more progressive and economically developed if we channel our resources to more productive endeavors instead of treating smoking-related diseases, which can be prevented,” he stressed.
According to Gatchalian, cigarette use is prevalent among boys aged 13 to 15 at 17.6, percent, while the percentage of girls aged 13-15 into smoking are at seven percent, citing a research done by the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS).
The GYTS survey also showed that 50.6 percent of students noticed tobacco advertisements or promotions at points of sale, while 67.1 percent were taught in school about the dangers of tobacco in the past 12 months.
In terms of attitude towards smoking, the survey showed that 10.8 percent of students thought smoking tobacco help people feel more comfortable at celebrations, parties and social gatherings.
The senator, however, noted that young Filipinos are heavily in favor of banning smoking in public places, with 93.1 percent of students in favor of a smoking ban in enclosed public places and around 90.9 percent of students favor a smoking ban in outdoor public places.
Gatchalian said there is a necessity to boost learners’ media and information literacy especially since they are more exposed to cigarette advertisements.
“Since learning from home will be the new norm when classes reopen, the learning environment for the youth should be smoke-free,” the senator stressed.