In The News: Smoking costs PH P188B every year

Written by Paul M.Gutierrez

GIVING up cigarette smoking may well be the “best” New Year’s resolution for the country’s estimated 17 million smokers with the vice’s ill-effects reportedly costing the country upwards to P188 billion in health cost and productivity losses.

This, according to Medgate Philippines’ chief executive officer Robert Parker, who also lauded the campaign of the Department of Health (DoH) headed by Health Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Russel-Ubial to stop tobacco addiction through the department’s “Protect Your Family, Stop Smoking” campaign.

Launched last October, the campaign is designed to encourage smokers to quit the vice.

“With more than 17 million Filipinos still addicted to tobacco use, there’s more work to be done to reduce the health and economic harms of tobacco.

“We are confident that this campaign, with its clear message targeted at Filipino families, will encourage more people to try to quit smoking tobacco,”

Ubial said. Ubial said the campaign was very timely, “as President Rodrigo Duterte moves towards implementing his clear vision of the Philippines’ tobacco control priorities.”

“This includes comprehensive smoke-free laws and the full implementation of graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging earlier approved by Congress,” the official said.

The department has already identified tobacco as the primary risk factor in the Philippines for a range of non-communicable diseases.

Aside from costing the country some P188 billion in health cost and productivity losses, it was also found out that more than 71,850 Filipinos are killed by tobacco-related diseases every year.

The Philippine Cancer Society has also reported that around 3,000 non-smoking adult Filipinos die every year of lung cancer as a result of inhaling second-hand smoke.

For his part, Parker noted that while modern medicine can now address many of the health problems encountered by smokers, “the best solution to all these problems is simply quitting.”

Medgate, his company, is one of the world’s leading international providers of telemedicine, with operations in Switzerland, the Middle East, Australia, and the Philippines.

“Telemedicine” is the use of electronic communications to transmit and exchange medical information and data to treat patients. It allows people to consult doctors via their cellular phones instead of queuing in line at the doctor’s office.