GETTING rid of second-hand smoke is not easy.

I stopped smoking cigarettes almost 27 years ago. As I reached the magic age my lungs seem free from pollution. My breathing is unhindered as I brisk walk with interval jugging ran three kilometers twice a week.

I was introduced to smoking at the early age of puberty by elder boys in the neighborhood who enticed their younger wards to stand like men.

"Smoking makes a man" they would say as they offer us the opportunity to inhale and puff one or two of their cigarettes.

Boys of my time fancied the idea of walking tall with the older ones whom we idolized for their adolescent audacity and dreamt up tales and adventures with the opposite sex. Curious about how life is towards the end of adolescence, I join other boys sit and smoke with our "out-of-school" mentors and listen to exciting encounters of growing up.

That's how I was hooked to smoking and puffing my lungs off. Drawing and inhaling cigarette smoke into the lungs was likened to a breath of life.

The downside, however, was the realization that walking with "men" meant providing them with free sticks of cigarettes purchased out of my measly daily allowance. Years later, after I landed a job I became a chain-smoker consuming two to three packs daily.

Today I recall the admonition of my elder sister on the ill-effects of smoking as she computed the cost of my bad habit. l now realize it is a fortune.

In the past decades, health authorities partly succeeded in their campaign against cigarette smoking. Total non-smoking policies are now enforced, among others, in airplanes, hospital premises, movie theatres, buses, trains, and school campuses. Restaurants and bars have separate smoking and non-smoking areas.

Free from morning smokers' cough, nicotine-stained teeth and fingers, and improved breathing, non-smokers and dropouts like me are not safe from the dangers of cigarette smoke on our health. In fact, health authorities warn that exposure to second-hand smoke is more dangerous to ones' health.

A program manager of the World Health Organization says that surveys continue to validate the dangers of second-hand smoke. Armando Peruga who headed the research for the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare and Bloomberg Philanthropies says one percent of the world population or 603 thousand die yearly from second-hand smoke-related diseases added to the 5.1 million deaths among active smokers.

The same research reveals that 40 percent of children and 30 percent among non-smoking men and women are exposed to breathe second-hand smoke.

In the Cordillera region, a survey conducted years ago by the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality (YAFS) showed that 47 percent of the youth population tried cigarette smoking with 97 percent knowledgeable of the ill-effects on their health.

Cigarette pack wrappings maintain a warning which states that "Cigarette Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health". This caution is not heeded by smokers despite the persistent campaign. They continue to take pleasure in the "breathe of life" even as they suffer the inconvenience of being squeezed out from public places.

New York, the most exciting city in the world, was first in writing a no-smoking ordinance in her streets. Airline and land transport vehicles took up the drive. Smokers and non-smokers alike have expressed opposing views. But proponents of a smoking ban had a vote in their favor. Other cities around the world, including those in the country, followed suit and adopted similar laws to free the atmosphere of some pollution.