5-year-old is youngest smoker in Region 7

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014


PEPITO Rivera, 20, has been a smoker since he graduated high school.

A college student, Rivera said he smokes about five sticks a day whenever he feels stressed out after school or after studying.

“I can’t stand not being able to smoke even just one stick in a day,” Rivera said.

But officials of the Department of Health (DOH) Central Visayas warned smokers like Rivera that such lifestyle could lead to bad effects if prolonged.

In fact, DOH 7 officials said that cigarette smokers in Central Visayas are getting younger each year.

Officials of the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) said that as of this year, the youngest smoker in the region is five years old.

Dr. Christopher Samson, one of VSMMC’s Health and Wellness coordinators, said that some children are exposed to cigarette smoking at a young age because they often see their parents doing it.

‘Bad example’

Samson said that some parents smoke in front of their children, making their children believe that smoking is good.

Also, the prevalence of e-cigarettes and other alternative forms of cigarettes are not helping in the fight to end smoking, despite the lack of tar in it.

Samson said that even without the tar, e-cigarettes still contain nicotine which promotes dependence on cigarette smoking.

Although he could not provide statistics per province, Samson revealed that they noticed a slight shift in the number of smokers following the passage of the new Sin Tax Law this year.

He added that due to the law’s provision that increases the cost of tobacco and other sin products, children no longer have the access to buy this products in the market.

A national survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations last March revealed that smokers belonging to the socioeconomic class E or the very poor dropped from 38 percent in December 2012 to 25 percent in March this year.

The study also showed that smoking prevalence among those belonging to the 18 to 24 age groups reduced from 35 percent in December 2012 to 18 percent in March last year.

The Sin Tax Law was passed in December 2012.

Despite the decrease, Samson urged frequent smokers like Rivera to stop now while it’s still early.

He also urged the National Government to finally approve their call to include graphics on cigarette packs to deter smokers.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 03, 2014.

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