Let’s use Anti-smoking pictures on cigarette packaging

For those who are wondering why I am so thin and skinny, it’s partly because of COPD or chronic obstructive pulmornary disorder to which emphysema and chronic bronchitis are categorized under. It is a lung disease that involves damage to the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. It’s caused by exposure to toxic chemicals and the most common if not the number one cause; is smoking tobacco or the exposure to it.

I do not smoke cigarettes. Never have I taken a single puff of the damned thing in all my life. I take alcoholic drinks, and may have spent too many drinking sessions before but I’d rahter chug down a bottle of gin or rum than to puff a whole stick of cigarette.

Unfortunately, I was surrounded by people who smoke. My friends, my neighbors and even my father. So yes, I’m a victim of second-hand smoke.

Though I tried my best in avoiding exposure, it cannot be helped so much, everytime we sit around to enjoy a few bottles of beer or rum, it’s nearly impossible not to have a pack of cigarette at the table. My warnings coupled with scientific explanations worked for only a couple of minutes, after my sermon my friends would have a new stick and they’d be puffing away.

So what can I do? What can we do knowing that there are millions like me who suffer from second-hand smoke?

Anti-smokers of the world unite

The anti-smoking movement has picked up around the world and the UN’s World Health Organization leading the campaign against smoking. An international treaty against smoking or the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has long been ratified by 192 members of the United Nations with the goal of strictly curbing on the advertising, marketing and sale of tobacco products within five years. It also enjoins states that have ratified the treaty to enact their own smoking regulation laws and implement them sincerely.

Europe has taken the lead against the advertising of tobacco products when it enforced a blanket ban on all tobacco advertising in the European Union in July 2005. One of the most visible signs of this effort is the disappearances of tobacco brands name and logos in the most prestigious racing event, Formula One. In the United Kingdom, smoking in all public places are now prohibited and the sale of tobacco products are now limited to those aged 18 up from the original age limit of 16.

Only in the Philippines

Here in the Philippines, we were lucky(?) to have RA 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 which does not only regulate the advertising, but to ban smoking in all public places like schools, elevators, staircases, hospitals, airports, ship terminals, train stations, public transports, and restaurants. This is NOT just in the City of Makati, but all throughout the country!

The sad part is, RA 9211 is, as quoting Dr. Emer of Parallel Universes, “it’s excellent only in paper.” I agree. Everywhere I go, smokers still abound in every public place, right inside passenger jeepneys and even in restaurants! Hell, even the law enforcers are the ones who are never out of cigarettes.

Stop listening Uncle Sam

So what we are ought to do? Especially here in our country where lung disease remains one of the top killers. Even babies as young as 3 months old have been found to carry nicotine and carcinogenic compounds in their bodies not because they smoke, but because everywhere they are taken, a smoker puffing as his or her cigarette is present.

Besides calling for a sincere and strict implementation of RA 9211, we should boost our campaign against smoking by appealing to smokers’ pyshce. What could be better than using the power of images.

Just recently, the British Government through its Health Ministry has promulgated new resolutions requiring images highlighting the dangers of smoking to be printed on all tobacco products sold in the UK by the end of 2009.

I’ve seen the images and I believe these will be much more effective than those old-style fine prints saying “Government Warning: Cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health.”

Below are some of the images displayed and blatantly stolen from the BBC website that highlight the harmful health effects of smoking.

It's addictive
It harms kids
It's an addiction
It causes impotence
It causes lung cancer
It harms pregnancy
It causes early death

The images are simple yet very powerful. How I wish the same pictures or initiative would be underaken and implemented here in the Philippines. If Congress were to amend or supplement RA 9211 with this kind of campaign the anti-smoking movement will certainly gain more ground.

However, there are some criticism against this type of anti-smoking strategy.

Neil Rafferty, a spokesman for smokers’ lobby group Forest, described the initiative as the “victimisation” of smokers.

“You could construct exactly the same argument for placing graphic images on bottles of alcohol, but because most people like to drink alcohol, the government doesn’t want to offend the majority.

“The government are bullying smokers simply because they can get away with it.”

Perhaps alcohol would be the next on the list of being regulated for public health promotion. Let’s take things one step at a time.

How about you? Would agree to this particular kind of strategy against smoking? I’ve set up a readers’ poll on the sidebar. Cast your vote and add your voice to the discussion below.

23 Replies to “Let’s use Anti-smoking pictures on cigarette packaging”

  1. Not only do I agree but I give my full support to this type of advertising campaign against smoking. If smokers don't want to quit, it's their choice but please don't pollute the air that non-smokers breath!

    The Philippine Government should really enforce RA 9211 all throughout the country and not only in Makati.

  2. I don't smoke. (Although, technically… *ahem* I may have inhaled something illegal during my university days. I blame that on my youth.)

    My uncle got throat cancer. He was a heavy smoker.

    I support any initiatives banning smoking in public.

  3. Hi Sir, i'm chika bugtas senior broadcast communication at UPd. i saw the link to your blog at yugatech. i'm doing a study about philippine podcasting. if you have time po, may i ask you to answer the ff questions po, kahit in bullet points lang po. you can email the answers at chikasci_bugtas@yahoo.com.ph

    thank you so much for you time. god bless!






    1. Who introduced you to podcasting? How did you discover podcasting?

    2. What are your favorite podcasts? Why? (Describe these podcasts)

    3. What are your least favorite podcasts? Why? (Describe these podcasts)

    4. How often do you listen to or download podcast sites?

    5. How are you able to access podcasts?

    6. Are you planning to put up your own podcast site? Why yes? Why not?

    7. In what ways do you think can podcasting benefit the Filipino society?

    8. Are there negative effects of podcasting to Filipinos? If yes, what are those?

    9. Are you aware of any issues being thrown at podcasting? What are those? (Ex. Podcasting will kill radio broadcasting)

    10. What’s your personal assessment on the status of podcasting in the Philippines?

    11. Do you think podcasting will click in the Philippines? Why?

  4. Sounds like the guy so thin but never smoked is an alcoholic or has aids. Certainly not from second hand smoke. Maybe it is from laser printers or asbestos. Might be from eating lead paint when he was young. Maybe he has a birth defect in his heart or lungs that has shown up. I could go on and on. You people need to get a life.

  5. @ Ade: Yes, I remember those. Now why can't the government do the same thing here in our country?

    @ Jaypee: Perhaps we could use the photos as a badge on our sidebar. You know what I'm talking about. πŸ˜‰

    @ arbet: The pictures were created by the British Government to be used in all tobacco-based products in the UK. So it probably belongs to the public domain. Besides, using it as a badge (which I plan to do) on your site or blog would only help in the campaign against smoking.

    @ fruityoaty: Have you seen the photo that featured throat cancer caused by smoking? It's in my zooomr account and it's quite unsettling to see.

    @ chuck norris dude: Smokers are getting younger today thanks to the imperialist machinations of the big transnational corporations from jpb's country.

    @ jpb: Well, unfortunately all of your assumptions are wrong. The thin guy is not alcoholic, though he does consume alcohol. He's never worked in a printer factory let alone could afford to buy and use a laser printer at home. Lead-based paints were never used in his home either. In fact, his house is barely painted at all. It looks better in its surfaced concreted walls and wooden panels.

    The thin guy was also born with out no defects at all, in fact his weight at birth was just right. He has a strong heart for such a thin person, his exercise includes Tai Chi and a daily walk of almost 2000 steps because of all the social and school activities he's engaged in. It's also because he doesn't drive his own car, which is by far one of the most polluting activity a single person could do nowadays.

    I could go on and on, but you know what? A lung condition did just show up, and it's all because of second-hand smoke. Ask the doctors at the St. Luke's Medical Center where he was helped to by his relatives in the US to be examined at, they all agree that it's caused by second-hand smoke. The thin guy had a life, it was a wonderful, meaningful and productive life but sadly, it was threatened by smokers.

    Sounds like you're a smoker too yourself? If so, who's the one to get a life now?

  6. @jhay – I'm thinking of using this picture on my sidebar but I'll have to edit it first. Btw, I'm not yet done with the logo that I'm working on. I'll let you know. πŸ˜‰

    Btw, the reason why it would be near impossible to stop smoking in the Philippines? A lot of our lawmakers are smokers themselves and theese tobacco companies have a lot of money to spend for making sure the law doesn't stop them. If you know what I'm saying.

    @jpb – You do sound like a smoker coz you wouldn't be offended by this article if you weren't. Anyways, here's a little bit of info on second hand smoke:

    Secondhand smoke has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a known cause of cancer in humans (Group A carcinogen).

    Secondhand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke. Secondhand smoke contains hundreds of chemicals known to be toxic or carcinogenic, including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic ammonia and hydrogen cyanide.

    Secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths and 46,000 heart disease deaths in adult nonsmokers in the United States each year.

    I hope someone can come up with a way to change the way cigarettes work. What I mean is, the smoker gets all the bad chemicals and not those who inhale the second hand smoke. πŸ˜€

  7. @ Melo Villareal: Maybe we could start an online campaign or something, like a petition or to lobby our Congressmen (God help us) to implement this strategy too.

    @ Manila Freelancer: Well, you could start by trimming down on your daily consumption. Counselors would always give this advice. Better yet, why don't you seek professional help on stopping your deadly habit (pardon me). Everyone else around you and especially your self would greatly benefit from it.

    @ Jaypee: Good point, when money talks, politicians really listen and with great enthusiasm. But I'm sure we, the voting public can influence their minds. πŸ˜†

    Also, follow the link to the British Health Ministry website, the original images are really thumbnail-sized so you could use those images without resizing the ones I displayed on this post. πŸ™‚

  8. The term for those are "Graphic Warning Labels." They can also be found on packages of cigarettes in Thailand (gross ones, too.) If you notice, the warning labels on local cigarettes are now required to occupy about 33% of the front of a pack of ciggies. Thanks to RA 9211. A cigarette manufacturing company has pulled out from radio and TV advertising since 2001 while the other big-wig continued on theirs. What use is pulling out from this when billboards are shown everywhere, right? Come 2008, we will all experience the full extent of this law: no more billboards, TV, or Radio ads. In Thailand, you will not find cigarettes being sold in the open. Their law requires that retailed smokes should be covered with black cloth on top of the graphic warning labels. Just wanted to share.

    Although I smoke, I find it irritating to smell second hand smoke. A paradox, really.

  9. Hi ,

    i was a chain smoker for 8 years. Do you know how to quit smoking.

    Do not try the below things.

    i) Dont take any promise like , ' i dont smoke from tomorrow'.

    ii) This is my last cigarette i smoke.

    It wont help us.

    You can quit smoke as it is . ie), Dont feel it is very hard to quit. Just change your daily activity. Do eat. Atleast for a week. Whenever you feel smoke, just have food how much you can.

    For adults. Please do not think that 'Smoking is a passionate thing'. If we get disease, no one will help us.

  10. Hey.

    I'm a journalism student at UP Diliman. I'm making a a story about the probable implementation of graphic-based warnings in cigarettes in the Philippines.

    I was wondering if I could interview you about the dangerous effects of tobacco smoke.

    If ever you're interested, kindly email me at kaykieee_e@yahoo.com.

    An email correspondence would be sufficient.

    Your help story would really be helpful in my article.

    Thank you.


  11. common!i agree!let us fight smoking in anyway we can because it's killing people esp.the youth!

    Harmful Chemicals In Cigarettes & Tobacco Smoke

    Chemicals in cigarettes and tobacco smoke make smoking harmful.

    Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 different chemicals. At least 43 are known carcinogens (cause cancer in humans).

    Cigarettes are one of few products which can be sold legally which can harm and even kill you over time if used as intended.

    Currently there are ongoing lawsuits in the USA which aim to hold tobacco companies responsible for the effects of smoking on the health of long term smokers.

    Benzene (petrol additive)-A colourless cyclic hydrocarbon obtained from coal and petroleum, used as a solvent in fuel and in chemical manufacture – and contained in cigarette smoke. It is a known carcinogen and is associated with leukaemia.

    Formaldehyde -(embalming fluid)A colourless liquid, highly poisonous, used to preserve dead bodies – also found in cigarette smoke. Known to cause cancer, respiratory, skin and gastrointestinal problems.

    Ammonia (toilet cleaner)Used as a flavouring, frees nicotine from tobacco turning it into a gas, found in dry cleaning fluids.

    Acetone -(nail polish remover)Fragrant volatile liquid ketone, used as a solvent, for example, nail polish remover – found in cigarette smoke.

    Tar- Particulate matter drawn into lungs when you inhale on a lighted cigarette. Once inhaled, smoke condenses and about 70 per cent of the tar in the smoke is deposited in the smoker's lungs.

    Nicotine -(insecticide/addictive drug)

    One of the most addictive substances known to man, a powerful and fast-acting medical and non-medical poison. This is the chemical which causes addiction.

    Carbon Monoxide (CO)- (car exhaust fumes)

    An odourless, tasteless and poisonous gas, rapidly fatal in large amounts – it's the same gas that comes out of car exhausts and is the main gas in cigarette smoke, formed when the cigarette is lit. Others you may recognize are :

    Arsenic (rat poison), Hydrogen Cyanide (gas chamber poison)

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