Fewer Filipino adult smokers in 2015 – survey
MANILA, Philippines – Results of the 2015 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) showed a "significant decrease" in the prevalence of tobacco use among Filipino adults in recent years.
"While the Philippines has reduced tobacco use since 2009, nearly a quarter of Filipinos continued to use tobacco in 2015," an executive summary of the 2015 GATS read.
Tobacco use prevalence dropped from 29.7% in 2009 to 23.8% in 2015, according to the survey, representing a 19.9% relative decline.
The Philippines' health department (DOH) on Friday, May 5, said "drastically raising the tobacco excise taxes, which forced the steady increase on cigarette prices from 2013 through 2017, proved to be the single most effective way of reducing tobacco use among smokers in the Philippines."
The landmark Sin Tax Reform Law of 2012 mandates that a unitary tax rate of P30 be imposed on all cigarette packs – regardless of price – by 2017.
The GATS survey also said 15.9 million (22.7%) adults currently smoke tobacco, and 13.1 million (18.7%) adults smoke it daily.
Daily cigarette smokers use an average of 11 cigarettes per day, and among daily smokers aged 15 to 34, the average age of initiating daily cigarette smoking was 17.5 years old.
The survey also reported that in 2015, 7 in 10 (76.7%, from 60.4% in 2009) current tobacco smokers were interested or planned to quit smoking tobacco.
The percentage of smokers who made quit attempts also increased significantly, from 47.9% in 2009 to 52.2% in 2015, but the percentage who have successfully done so "largely remained unchanged," since only 4% did so in 2015 as compared to the 4.5% in 2009.
But the DOH said "scare tactics seem to have worked well among the Filipino smoking population."
The GATS survey reported that the percentage of smokers who thought of quitting smoking because of health warnings on cigarette packs "increased significantly" from 37.4% in 2009 to 44.6% in 2015.
The Philippines has also "made progress" in protecting the public from exposure to secondhand smoke. In fact, according to the survey, exposure at home and in the workplace "declined significantly."
It was estimated that in 2015, 24 million adults (34.7%) were exposed to tobacco smoke at home, while 3.6 million adults (21.5%) were exposed to tobacco smoke in enclosed areas at their workplace.
Among those who visited public places in the past 30 days, 21.9% of adults reported exposure to tobacco smoke in restaurants, while 37.6% reported exposure in public transportation.
The largest decline in exposure among all public places occurred in government buildings, from 25.5% in 2009 to 13.6% in 2015.
"Smoke-free policies initiated by various government agencies and [local government units] have contributed substantially to this reduction," the DOH said in a statement.
In 2015, more adults (83.2% compared to 80.1% in 2009) also noticed anti-cigarette smoking information at any location. The DOH said its policy issuances on graphic health information "greatly contributed" to this progress.
The 2015 GATS points to the MPOWER package as steps that government can take to help end the tobacco epidemic:
- Monitor tobacco use & prevention policies
- Protect people from tobacco smoke
- Offer help to quit tobacco use
- Warn about the dangers of tobacco
- Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship
- Raise taxes on tobacco
"Periodic monitoring of tobacco use, evaluation of tobacco control interventions and continued vigilance on tobacco industry interference are important components in reducing tobacco use and tobacco-related morbidity and mortality," the executive summary read.
The GATS is a "nationally representative household survey used to monitor adult tobacco use...and track key tobacco control indicators across countries."
In the Philippines, DOH collaborated with the Philippine Statistics Authority in administering the survey. – Rappler.com