He once dreamed of having his own car mechanic shop to help his widowed mother provide for their family.
But that dream was abruptly cut short due to an illness that he didn’t think would hit him at an early age: heart disease.
Clipol (not his real name) started smoking when he was 13.
People around him smoked and this enticed him to take on the habit. In his young mind, adult smokers looked cool when they puffed cigarettes.
At 16, however, he became sickly, prompting his mother to bring him to a doctor. He was told that he has an enlarged heart.
The doctor also told him that this was aggravated by his smoking habit. At 20, he was gone.
Clipol is just one of the 16.6 million Filipinos who smoke.
According to a 2015 Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 23.8 percent, or 16.6 million people in the Philippines were reported to be smokers, with the average number of cigarettes smoked each day being 11.
Heart disease and throat cancer are just two of the diseases that one can get from smoking. Often, cigarette smoking impacts the lungs.
National Lung Month
Every August, the National Lung Month is celebrated to create awareness and educate people on the importance of prioritizing lung health to reduce the risk of lung disease.
Health experts says that lung disease can be avoided if people don’t smoke.
According to the American Lung Association, cigarette smoking is the “major” cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Smoking and vaping, which has been linked to severe lung disease, renders the air passages to narrow, making breathing more difficult. Before you know it, your lung tissues have been destroyed and may trigger changes that grow into cancer.
Atty. Benedict Nisperos of HealthJustice Philippines, a non-government organization, said that the state plays a vital role in protecting the youth against the negative impacts of smoking and vaping on the lungs.
“The right policy for the state should be pro-health and not pro-profit of a harmful industry. Our laws should protect our children, the youth, and non-smokers from easier access to these toxic products. Regulation of health-related products like vapes should be under the Food and Drug Administration,” Nisperos said. He mentioned this in the context of the recently lapsed vape bill.
Nisperos, Dr. Imelda Mateo, president of the Philippine College of Chest Physicians, Imelda Gocotano, president of and convenor of Parents Against Vapes, and Dr. Corry Avancena, head of the Philippine Academy of Pediatric Pulmonologist Task Force on Inhaled Environmental Hazards and a member of the Philippine Pediatric Society, Tobacco Control Advocacy Group discussed the health consequences of smoking, heated tobacco products, and vaping, in a press briefing on August 4, 2022.
Since the Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act, also known as the vape bill, has lapsed into a law, these health advocates have vowed to continue to take an active stance against these harmful products.
“We are alarmed that the vape law has lapsed into law. This only affords our youth the opportunity to access the sweet-smelling yet toxic products, to the detriment of their health,” Gocotano said.
Meanwhile, Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, Stanford Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Tobacco Prevention Toolkit said: “Let’s call this youth vaping crisis what it is: A Juuling epidemic, as studies have repeatedly shown that young people use e-cigarettes because of the flavors.”
“If flavors didn’t exist, they say they wouldn’t vape. Many of the more than 15,000 unique e-cigarette flavors have names, such as Honey Doo Doo, Booger Sugar, and Barney Pebbles. Names that aren’t exactly aimed at an adult audience. Kids are also attracted to the mint and menthol flavors, long thought to be the purview of adults,” Halpern-Felsher said.