Tobacco growing harms the health of the people, the health of farmers and the planet’s health, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
On May 31, WHO and public health champions around the world celebrated World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). This year’s theme is “Grow food, not tobacco.”
In the Philippines, smoke-free advocates encouraged smokers to break the bad habit of smoking and spend more money instead on healthy food.
HealthJustice Philippines and Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) stressed that vices, like smoking and vaping, have a massive impact on a person’s overall financial health.
They also cited that one of the results of the 2021 GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) showed that among daily cigarette smokers, the average monthly expenditure was P1,273.90. The amount could have been spent to buy more nutritious food or on other necessities.
To convey the bad impact of smoking, smoke-free advocates and the city government of Manila recently launched a photo exhibit at the Manila City Hall, in time for the commemoration of World No Tobacco Day on Wednesday, May 31.
With the theme “We need food, not tobacco,” the exhibit sought to convey the powerful message that tobacco does not have any redeeming value, whereas food does.
The photo exhibit was organized through the collaborative efforts of Manila City Vice Mayor John Marvin “Yul Servo” Nieto, alongside HealthJustice, PLCPD, Child Rights Network, Social Watch Philippines, Philippine Smoke-Free Movement, Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids, Aktib, Parents Against Vape, and Action for Economic Reforms.
Nieto said that the exhibit aims to make people aware of the bad effects of smoking not just on the smokers’ body but also on the people around them. Second- and third-hand smoke also pose harm to even non-smokers.
“Instead of spending on cigarettes that will only do harm on our health and our source of living, we should prioritize food,” Nieto said during the launch of the photo exhibit.
Nieto also underscored the role of the local government, like the city of Manila, in spreading awareness to help the smokers in the city quit for the sake of their health.
Strengthen smoke-free policy
The Vice Mayor also stressed the need to strengthen the smoke-free policy of the nation’s capital.
“We are coordinating with different civil society groups to create smoke-free solutions in Manila. Our target is for the city’s public spaces to be 100 percent smoke-free,” Nieto said.
For his part, Child Rights Network Convenor and Executive Director of the PLCPD Rom Dongeto thanked the city of Manila for “leading the way towards pursuing local policies for the protection of children’s health.”
“Child rights and health advocates across the country fully support this exhibit’s message of prioritizing healthy food over ‘no good’ tobacco and doing everything possible to ensure that all Pinoy kids have healthy lungs and are able to eat healthy food,” Dongeto explained, as he expressed hope that other LGUs will follow suit.
The photo exhibit captured the issue’s “raw and unfiltered truth.”
Key parts of the exhibit featured candid moments in workplaces across the city, including tourist areas, malls, transport areas and government offices, to highlight not only the struggle of the common people but also the added burden tobacco use puts on these people’s lives.
Likewise, the Department of Health threw its support behind the health groups as they encouraged the public to quit smoking.
“Sa Bisyo Wala kang panalo, Quit now!,” the DOH said.
For those who want to stop smoking, the DOH said that they may reach DOH Quitline 1558.