As part of its observance of the World No Tobacco Day 2015 on May 31, the Department of Health (DOH) on Friday reiterated its call to the public to stop smoking, emphasizing that more than 200 Filipinos and about 6 million people worldwide die from smoking-related diseases every day.
Citing data from the World Health Organization (WHO), DOH said in a statement that smoking was killing one person every six seconds daily—600,000 of which are cases of second-hand smoke.
“Unless we act, the epidemic will kill more than 8 million people every year by 2030,” DOH said. “More than 80 percent of these preventable deaths will be among people living in low-and-middle-income countries.”
World No Tobacco Day was first observed by member WHO countries in 1987 to draw attention to the widespread use of tobacco products and its negative health effects.
This year, WHO is focused on mobilizing nations to stop the illegal but prevalent trade of tobacco products across the globe.
“Eliminating the illicit trade in tobacco would generate an annual tax windfall of US$31 billion for governments, improve public health, help cut crime and curb an important revenue source for the tobacco industry,” WHO said in a statement released on Thursday.
WHO has been eyeing to convince countries to ink the “Protocol to Eliminate the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products,” which would help curb criminal activities involving tobacco trade through enhanced international cooperation.
The WHO statement said only eight countries have ratified the protocol so far—still short of WHO’s target of 40 signatures before it can become an international law.
“The illicit tobacco trade offers products at lower prices, primarily by avoiding government taxes through smuggling, illegal manufacturing and counterfeiting,” it added.
DOH also said the World No Tobacco Day could be an effective platform to raise awareness especially among the youth on the dangers of smoking.
“It aims to ensure that health care gains like increased tax and prices, pictorial health warnings and other measures are not undermined by the tobacco companies, and counter the tobacco industry’s involvement in the illicit trade of tobacco products,” DOH added.
In July last year, President Benigno Aquino III, a known smoker himself, signed into a law a measure requiring tobacco companies to put graphic warnings on cigarette packs.
DOH said it already issued 12 templates of these warnings in March. Manufactures were given one year to comply, while retailers have 8 months to ensure that all of their products have graphic warnings.
“Cheaper tobacco encourages younger tobacco users and cuts government revenues, reducing the resources available for socioeconomic development, especially in low-income countries that depend heavily on consumption taxes,” WHO added.