DOH-6 bats to encourage more Ilonggos to quit smoking

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

In a bid to encourage more to quit smoking and vaping, the Department of Health-Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH-WVCHD) is calling on smokers and vapers in the region, who have quit since July 1, 2022, to join their tobacco cessation contest.

“This campaign is of great significance in our collective efforts to foster the health of the Filipinos […] We all know that we have lots of mortalities and morbidities in relation to smoking and this is one of the ways to address the epidemic of smoking,” said Dr. May Ann Soliva-Sta. Lucia, Chief of the Local Health Support Division of the DOH-WVCHD.

The “Stop and Gain: A Quit and Win Tobacco Cessation Contest” is open to smokers and vapers who have quit in the last six months. The contest is in partnership with the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Philippines and the Lung Center of the Philippines (LOP).

Registration is open until October 31, 2023, and winners will be determined via a raffle draw to be announced on November 22. 2023.

There will be three winners: one each from Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao, where they will receive P5,000 each.

“We proudly support and laud this joint initiative to bolster the health of Filipinos. Smoking cessation is a vital step towards a healthier and more fulfilling life,” said DOH-WVCHD regional director Dr. Adriano Subaan.

The DOH-WVCHD also encouraged tobacco and electronic cigarette users to enroll in smoking cessation programs available at Provincial Hospitals in Akan, Antique, and Iloilo, which is facilitated through the Apex Referral Hospital for Lung Diseases, the Western Visayas Medical Center.

Dr. Maricar Limpin, executive director of ASH Philippines said the cessation contest seeks to empower former smokers and vapers and to inspire current tobacco and vape users that a life without these habits is achievable.

“When you stop smoking or vaping, you gain so much more. You gain your health, reclaim your life: achier quality life, and secure precious moments with your loved ones,’ she added.

The DOH-WVCHD reported that in 2021, diseases caused by smoking were the leading causes of mortality or death in the region. This includes hypertensive cardiovascular diseases or heart disease (1st-15,088 deaths), pneumonia (2nd-7,906 deaths), neoplasm or cancer of all forms (4th-4,775 deaths), and disease of the respiratory system (5th-3,007).

Data also showed that some of the leading causes of morbidity or disease in all age groups in the same year include Hypertension (3rd-27,820), Acute Respiratory Infection (4th-19,315), Upper Respiratory Tract infection (5th-16,704), Tuberculosis in all forms (7th-12,259), and Pneumonia (9th-11,342).

The DOH-WVCHD said they are closely working with local government units in lobbying for the passage of local comprehensive tobacco control policies and making tobacco intervention services and smoking cessation clinics available.