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.
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.