Thursday July 19, 2018

Editorial: Nationwide smoking ban

MANY are rejoicing especially the health-conscious who have long been ruing the fact that the smoking ordinances seem not to be sustained.

With the signing of the executive order banning smoking in all public places nationwide by President Rodrigo Duterte, there is the renewed rejoicing. After all, this time, it's an order by the President, who as mayor of Davao City, managed to implement the ban for more than a decade now.

Will this work nationwide?

Much will depend on the law enforcers, there has to be strict implementation and violators have to be arrested. That is just how it works with Filipinos. They want to be compelled, although they are the first ones to cry foul when force is used. But then, that's just how it is.

After the period of strict enforcement comes the surprise arrests in random places, to keep the people on their toes, until such a time when people will just give up smoking in areas not designated for smoking.

It helps if the smoking areas are like the ones in Davao City. Where the really addicted ones who cannot wait until they reach home will have to suffer the heat of the sun or will have to walk a distance to reach the designated area.

It may be difficult at first, but the community can help. The bottom line here is about public health by stirring concern about the ill effects of smoking on children, second-hand smoke, and the smokers themselves. Many may find an issue about this and look at this as interference in their personal lives, but we all know it is not. This is a public health issue that has long been disregarded. It has long been fought for, but has been emasculated by counter lobbying by interest groups.

In the website of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (DCD), it is said that in the US, Smoking causes more deaths each year than the following causes combined: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); Illegal drug use; Alcohol use; Motor vehicle injuries; and Firearm-related incidents.

Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer. The CDC said estimates show smoking increases the risk: Coronary heart disease by two to four times; Stroke by two to four times; Men developing lung cancer by 25 times, and; Women developing lung cancer by 25.7 times.

The numbers are staggering; there is no reason why those who choose not to smoke will be subjected to this. There is also no reason why those who have loved ones who smoke will not try to wean them away from the vice.

Let's give it a try. Davao City made public spaces healthier for the greater majority; the whole Philippines can do better. We hope.