Aquino ignores call to quit smoking

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino will not quit smoking despite the country's top medical body publicly appealing for him to lead by example and kick the habit, his spokesman said Saturday, November 24.

The Philippine Medical Association called on Aquino to give up after noticing his frequent coughing, spokesman Edwin Lacierda told government radio.

But Lacierda said that Aquino's cough, which was first noticed during official visits to Australia and New Zealand late last month, was not related to his smoking but in fact caused by an allergy to pollen.

"Right now, this is one thing that takes away his stress. So let us let the president see how best to cope. He knows what is important," Lacierda said.

Aquino, 52, cancelled a meeting with visiting International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde due to ill health on November 16, his office said.

He flew to a regional summit in Cambodia the following day while suffering from the flu, Lacierda said. - Agence France-Presse