Dr. Flavier's 'Yosi-Kadiri' slogan vs smoking

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By Gerry Evangelista Sr.

Post Centennial Updates

Saturday, June 25, 2011


WITH the renewed campaign against smoking particularly in public places, government offices, eating places and transport vehicles, one remembers the catchy "yosi-kadiri" slogan coined by then Secretary of Health Dr. Juan Flavier. That was before his first term election to the Senate.

The government's anti-smoking drive caught the attention of the public, which was true with other slogans used by the Health Department for its many other health drives.

However, upon his elevation to the Senate, his successors at the DOH apparently slackened on the campaign against smoking and its hazards to public health.

During Flavier's 12-year stint at the Senate, nothing was heard about the anti-smoking drive. It was like Yosi-Kadiri dropping off from the consciousness of people, especially those in the habit of smoking.

With statistics rising on the ill effects of smoking, not to mention the hazards to the public health this practice inflicts, renewed anti-smoking rules and ordinances by local governments have slowly crept back on the scene.

Among the first local government units to take up the renewed drive against smoking is the city government of Baguio. To the credit of Mayor Mauricio Domogan and the members of the city council, a new anti-smoking ordinance has been minted. It is now in force.

Whether this renewed campaign against smoking in public places, government buildings, restaurants and even transport vehicles is more successful than in the first instance cannot be known this early. Along Session Road, policemen have been cautioning people smoking cigarettes to stop the practice on pain of being arrested and fined accordingly. It is also noticeable as to how restaurants, also along Session Road, have taken to setting up smoking areas inside establishments. Perhaps the city police should inform the public on the status of the city's anti-smoking ordinance.

Anti-smoking posters have also been set-up in conspicuous areas such as in the downtown parks warning people against public smoking. It remains to be seen, however, how far and successful this renewed drive against smoking in the city will fare.

With much publicity and fun fare, the City of Manila recently launched its own anti-smoking drive in public places. It is not known if other Metro Manila cities have followed Manila in prohibiting public smoking due to its generally inimical effects on the health of the people.

According to a news story in the June 23 issue of the Daily Inquirer, the US Department of Health and Human Services issued new sanctions against smoking. The warnings, said to be the biggest in cigarette labels in 25 years use images such as smoke coming out of a tracheotomy hole in a man's neck, a diseased lung, a smoker wearing an oxygen mask and other similar images.

The US Food and Drug Administration also said that with the anti-smoking approach, the number of American smokers will be cut down by 213,000 with smaller other reductions on to 2031.

With Philippine local government units taking an active role in the anti-smoking campaign, perhaps with similar images on cigarette packs, the number of Filipino smokers may be vastly reduced in the coming years.

Additional information released by the USFDA for the past four decades said, there was a steady decline in smoking in that country. However, five to seven years ago this figure leveled off to about 20 percent level among both adults and youth sectors. The USFDA also says that the rate of smoking in America had been roughly cut in half to 19 percent from 42 percent in 1965. More statistics: USFDA says that each day an estimated 4,000 youth try their first cigarette and 1000 become regular smokers.

While the new American government's stronger warnings against smoking is praised by health advocacy groups, protests also come from cigarette manufacturers. The Altria Group, said to be the biggest cigarette producer in the US, has already expressed its opposition to the new moves on cigarette labelling. Altria is the parent company of Philip Morris. Three other American cigarette makers expressed similar opposition to the new and drastic cigarette pack labeling saying this would unfairly hurt their property and free speech rights by obscuring their brand names in retail displays, demonizing the companies and stigmatizing smokers.

These big time US cigarette makers are the same suppliers for cigarette among Filipinos. The anti-smoking images include one which simply shows a man proudly wearing a T-shirt that says "I QUIT".

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on June 25, 2011.

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