Higher Cigarette Price Will Deter Smoking among Youth

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - It's confirmed! The Global Youth Tobacco Surveys, conducted in the Philippines in 2003 and 2007, say there is a significant increase in the number of young smokers in the country.

In 2003, 19.6 percent of teenagers from ages 13 to 15 years old consumed tobacco. This is 1.07 million out of the 5.46 million of that population according to the National Statistics Office.

In 2007 27.3 percent of the population in the same age group consumed tobacco, 1.56 million out of the 5.72 million young population.

In the 2011 survey, the National Youth Commission (NYC) estimated that among 5.89 million, 2.3 million or a 39.2 percent increase among kids of the same age group consumed tobacco. Simply, two out of five of these teenagers smoke cigarettes.

"Nakakabahala ang datos na 'to. Kailangan namin ng tulong para mailabas ang impormasyon na 'to. Two out of five sa mga kabataan ngayon ang naninigarilyo edad 13 hanggang 15. Nakakabahala kasi alam natin na may masamang naidudulot sa kalusugan ang paninigarilyo," laments NYC chairperson Leon Flores III.

They also reveal that the Philippines has one of the highest incidence of young smokers in the world. Male Filipinos are ranked at No.9 in the world, while female Filipinos are ranked at No. 16.

Cigarette consumption in the Philippines has also increased with the Department of Finance estimates that almost 5.3 million cigarette packs were sold in the country in 2011, which was the highest volume of cigarette packs sold in a year since 1993.

SMOKING IS NOT COOL

NYC believes that one of the reasons why there is an increase in consumption of tobacco among the youth is because cigarette smoking is perceived as "cool". NYC wants to show the young generation that it is not cool to smoke especially if one knows the repercussions of this risky activity. What's more alarming now is that the prime market of tobacco industry is the youth sector.

"Sa paglipas ng panahon, ang paninigarilyo ay isang 'cool' na gawain. I think we have not been successful in spreading the words about the ill effects of smoking among the youth," shares NYC commissioner Perci Cedana. "We're planning to step up the education campaign on tobacco intake because we saw that our old methods are not anymore effective. Gusto naming baguhin ang paniniwala na okay ang paninigarilyo. We have to tap on the youth psyche that it is not cool to smoke."

This leads to the fact that there's not enough information about the ill effects of smoking on one's health. Dr. Imelda Mateo, a pulmonologist, says that people who start smoking young could have risks of lung diseases and other conditions.

"When they start young, there are significant effects on the health. Common illness are, chronic cough shortness of breath, etc. If the kid has an existing condition like asthma or history of allergic rhinitis, smoking only aggravates their condition," Dr. Mateo explains.

Starting early and not stopping lead to a more permanent damage and even life-threatening diseases like lung cancer. Young people who smoke can cause their immune systems to weaken and their bodies can be easily infected by viruses. The doctor says that it will not only affect the lungs but other organ systems as well. Studies have proven that some cancers like those that occur in the urinary bladder are closely associated with cigarette smoking.

"There will be permanent damage particularly in the lungs. This is not only permanent but progressive. …