MORE than one in every eight Filipino aged 13–15 years old have been found to be puffing tobacco products, according to the Youth and Tobacco in the Western Pacific Region: Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) 2005-2014 report of the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to the latest GYTS report of the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO), 13.7 percent of those aged 13 to 15 years old in the Philippines are using tobacco products.
This makes the Philippines rank 15th among the highest out of the 22 countries subjected to the GYTS, said the report.
Leading the pack of having the highest number of youth smokers in the region is Papua New Guinea with 47.7 percent of their youth using tobacco products.
Rounding out the top 10 are Pacific countries Palau (45.4%); Micronesia (43.3%). Solomon Islands (40.2%); Kiribati (37.1%); Tuvalu (36.4%); Tonga (35.7%); Cook Islands (35.1%); Marshall Islands (25.9%); and Vanuatu (25.6%).
According to the GYTS, overall estimates of 8.2 percent of the region’s youth (or 5.3 million students) are found to be using tobacco products.
“Most smokers start using tobacco at a young age and continue throughout adulthood. As a consequence, a significant proportion will experience tobacco-related illness and death,” said WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Dr Shin Young-soo in a statement.
The WHO, then, called on member-states to put more attention in protecting the youth from tobacco harms.
This, the WHO official said, is especially important since most smokers start using tobacco at a young age and continue throughout adulthood.
“We must remain vigilant to ensure that the future of our youth won't be marred by tobacco's deplorable harms. To use the youth as today's tobacco customers is unacceptable," said Shin.
Tobacco use has been proven to result to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and chronic respiratory disease, further resulting in premature disease and death.
The WHO noted how, globally, tobacco claims six million lives each year with 30 percent of all tobacco-related deaths occurring in the Western Pacific Region. (HDT/Sunnex)