MANILA, Philippines – The National Youth Commission (NYC) yesterday warned against exposing the youth to smoking because they can easily pick up the habit and get addicted to it.
“The youth, especially those still in school, should not be exposed to the habit of smoking. They are impressionable and can easily pick up the habit set for them by their friends, family, and authority figures,” NYC Commissioner Leon Flores said.
Studies showed cigarettes are addictive because they contain nicotine, a chemical that increases the blood pressure and oxygen level in the body, resulting in the release of dopamine in the brain.
Once released, dopamine produces pleasurable feelings and since it is triggered by nicotine, smokers tend to continue smoking to achieve the desired sensation.
Tobacco also increases the chances for smokers to develop non-communicable diseases like cancer, problems in reproductive health, and a drop in physical stamina. “Exposing children to such a horrible habit paves the way for a life of pain and suffering. Those who smoke at a tender age usually have a harder time quitting. At the prime of their life, they are already at risk of life-threatening diseases. Those who smoke early, die early,” Flores said in a statement released by Health Justice Philippines (HJP).
Cathy Alcantara, of the Student Council Association of the Philippines (SCAP), said the number of youth smokers continues to rise despite the ill effects of cigarettes.
“At such a young age, (the youth must be) encouraged to focus on schoolwork, develop relationships with friends and family, and engage in extracurricular activities. Smoking is a distraction and a hindrance to all these,” she said.
HJP managing director Irene Reyes said adults should take the responsibility of telling the youth “that smoking is not worth trying.”
“More importantly, it is the duty of our leaders to step up and implement tobacco control measures to emphasize the dangers of cigarette use. When cigarettes are priced at P2 per stick, it is no wonder the youth succumb to curiosity and peer pressure to try smoking. Cheap cigarettes make smoking readily available and easily affordable to children,” Reyes said.