MANILA, Philippines – University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP) fans have signed an online petition asking young athletes to shoot videos of themselves encouraging Filipino teenagers to make a stand against smoking.
The petition, launched under Change.org, is part of “Time’s Up, Tobacco!” – a public movement meant to make tobacco companies accountable for the harmful effects of their products to both smokers and non-smokers.
According to Arvin Maceda, a 21-year-old student from the University of the Philippines (UP) Manila, UAAP athletes are in the best position to influence the youth since “they are excellent role models who show that being cool, popular, and adventurous do not involve lighting up a cigarette.”
Maceda asks athletes to upload the videos on Youtube and share it via social media websites Twitter (@TimesUpTobacco) and Facebook with the hashtags #TimesUpTobacco and #YOLOsmokefree.
As of Friday, October 3, more than 3,800 people have signed the petition, calling on their favorite UAAP teams to join them.
“Can’t wait for Valdez, Ravena, and Reyes to post their video. Kindly encourage the youth to have healthy lifestyles rather than try the risk of smoking,” posted Teena Contreras of Calamba, Laguna.
Established in 1938, the UAAP is the country’s premier university-based sports league, where 8 universities compete in 15 sports.
Health hazards of tobacco
Based on studies, around 90% of adult smokers started smoking when they were teens or younger. The results of the Global Youth Tobacco Survey – a school-based study for Filipinos aged 13-15 years old – showed that 13.7% of students are already smoking various forms of tobacco and that 8.9% currently smoke cigarettes.
“No wonder the tobacco companies’ sneaky advertisements and marketing tactics are now aimed at us, the youth,” Maceda said.
He added: “As a student, I know for a fact that these ads are sometimes placed adjacent to schools and universities. It is as if tobacco companies are forcefully enticing the young to start smoking.”
A report titled, “You’re the Target,” released in March 2013, emphasized the ineffectiveness of voluntary marketing codes and partial tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship bans in diminishing the tobacco companies’ capacity to target younger markets.
Volumes of internal industry data and research show that the tobacco industry targets children as young as 13 years old and that such strategies increase the smoking rate among the youth.
“Tobacco companies are trying to claw back lost profits from other countries by infiltrating Asia. They know the dangers of smoking and yet they are callously and cynically promoting smoking to the young,” Mark Bannister of Labason, Mindanao said. – Rappler.com