Written by Leony R. Garcia
THE New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) on Tuesday sought the support of President Aquino to give priority to health measures in the 16th Congress.
This is after Senate President Franklin Drilon and Sen. Pia Cayetano have filed their graphic health warning (GHW) bills at the Senate. Rep. Iloilo Neil Tupas and Marikina Rep. Marcelino Teodoro are reportedly expected to do the same for the House of Representatives.
NVAP members are composed of laryngeal-cancer survivors who attribute their cancer due to excessive smoking. Likewise, they represent the voice of tobacco victims.
“Our fight against tobacco did not end with the passage of the ‘sin’ tax law, it is only the beginning,” said Engr. Emer Rojas, NVAP president and global cancer ambassador.
Most recent Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) shows that 13.7 percent of the Filipino youth use tobacco products; 28.7 percent are boys and 12.1 percent are girls who are 13 to 17 years old.
The survey also shows that these young people think that they have more friends if they smoke. Part of these youth also believe that boys and girls who smoke look more attractive.
“This is quite disturbing considering that, in the first place, they should not have access to this deadly product,” Rojas said.
Rojas’s group, together with supporters, Health Justice, the Civil Service Commission and The Union Project (Race Towards a Tobacco Industry Interference-Free Civil Service) are pushing for the implementation of the GHW in packages of tobacco products.
GHWs, which depicts the various health risks and diseases that may be acquired through tobacco use, are proven effective communication tools for the public even to those who cannot read. Printing them on cigarette packages, for instance, may prevent first-time users from lighting their first stick and can motivate smokers to quit their addiction.
“Other countries have already proven that GHWs are effective in curbing the smoking epidemic. Our Asean neighbors have been using them. While the Philippines, the No.1 smoker in the Asean regions, has not used it and uses only the text message to warn tobacco’s danger on health,” said lawyer Diane Trivinio, project manager of Health Justice.
Rojas, who came with fellow laryngeal-cancer survivors, appealed for support of GHW from the government and public sector.
For his part, Tupas, through his representative, lawyer Eleonor Abellar, vowed to re-file within two weeks a similar bill through House Bill 2416.
“We should sustain our efforts in curbing the deadly tobacco addiction. Let us all save lives by supporting the GHW bills filed in both the House and Senate,” Rojas said. (Leony R. Garcia)