The government is serious about its campaign to decrease smoking in the Philippines.
Based on figures released by the Department of Health (DOH) in 2009, 10 million out of 17.3 million Filipinos or 58.8% who smoke want to quit. Unfortunately, ilan lang sa kanila ang nagiging successful sa pag-quit.
Since the 1990s, the DOH has launched many campaigns to convince Filipinos to stop smoking.
Who can forget the “Yosi Kadiri” mascot, one of the more successful anti-smoking campaigns launched by then Health Secretary Juan Flavier? Ni-revive ito ng DOH after 20 years.
Despite this, konti pa rin ang tumitigil magyosi.
That is why anti-smoking advocates rejoiced when Pres. Noynoy Aquino enacted the sin tax law in December 2012. Tumaas kasi ang taxes against tobacco and alcohol products because of this. According to the advocates, ang kawalan ng ganitong batas ang isa sa mga dahilan kung bakit napakamura ng yosi sa Pilipinas, kumpara sa ibang bansa.
More than a year after the sin tax law was implemented, its effects are already being felt. Just this March, anti-smoking advocates reported a decrease in the number of people who smoke.
“With higher cigarette prices, long-addicted Filipino tobacco users are lessening their consumption, while would-be smokers, especially from the young and the poor, are increasingly discouraged from taking up smoking in the first place,” ayon sa joint statement na inilabas ng 24 medical, health, at youth groups tulad ng Philippine College of Chest Physicians, Philippine Cancer Society, atbp.
But the battle against smoking continues.
Nung July 15, pinirmahan naman ni Pangulong Aquino ang batas na nagre-require sa paglalagay ng graphic health warnings sa mga kaha ng yosi. Aside from pictures that show the ill effects of smoking, kailangan na ring maglagay ng mga babala gaya ng “Smoking kills.”
Pero binibigyan pa ng one year grace period ang mga tobacco manufacturer na mailagay sa kaha ang warnings na ito.
Despite the progress of the country’s anti-smoking campaign which is aligned with the framework laid down by the World Health Organization (WHO), success can only be measured if more smokers successfully quit.
Aminado naman ang DOH na mahirap talaga ito dahil smoking is an addiction.
Sa mga hindi makapag-quit “cold turkey” o hindi maalis ang addiction sa yosi kahit pa mag-chewing gum o candy, ang pag-enrol sa smoking cessation program ang nakikitang solusyon.
Kabilang sa treatment na ito ang pagbibigay ng advice, guidance o counselling, at pati mga gamot para mawala ang tobacco dependence. Tumatagal ito ng 2 months.
Libre ang therapy sa 10 public hospitals na may smoking cessation clinics, ayon sa DOH.
Sabi ni Dr. Limpin may ilan ding private hospitals and clinics na nag-o-offer nito, yun nga lang, may bayad na mula P500 – P2,000 for the entire program na umaabot ng 4-8 weeks (once a week ang session).
Hindi rin libre ang gamot, na umaabot sa P100 per day, na kailangan for a period of 3 months.
That is why anti-smoking group Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP), through its Executive Director Dr. Maricar Limpin, is urging PhilHealth to cover parts of the treatment.
Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) is supporting this call.
Aside from encouraging more smokers to quit, more private cessation clinics that may be more convenient for smokers in terms of location may decide to open.
Aminado ang PhilHealth na kulang ang P500 alloted for each family each year for those who want to undergo counselling.
As of now, mga indigent, sponsored, OFW at OFW dependent members pa lang ang covered ng primary care benefits ng PhilHealth, where smoking cessation counselling is included.
Ginagawa ito sa mga rural health units at sa accredited government hospitals.
Pero unti-unti nang nag-e-expand ang PhilHealth to cover the employed sector.
The PCP is proposing na kunin na muna ng PhilHealth ang budget para sa smoking cessation program mula sa proceeds ng sin tax law.