Coming soon: National hotline for smokers who want to quit

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday, May 30 announced that it will soon launch a "National Quit Line" for smokers who want to kick the habit.

"We've been having a lot of capacity-building in terms of smoking cessation in the past years, and therefore this year, because of the executive order, we will be having the launching of the National Quit Line...also this coming June," Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said in a press conference for World No Tobacco Day on Tuesday.

On May 16, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order 26 which provides for the establishment of smoke-free environments in public and enclosed spaces. EO 26 was patterned after the Davao City ordinance "when it was in the early years of implementation."

Through the national hotline, smokers can get advice on how to start quitting, and information about facilities that can provide services for quitting.

"Right now, we have all DOH hospitals providing cessation services, so what we will do with the quit line is to make it available in all public places, in all conveyances, so that when people decide that they want to quit, they can readily call the hotline and then they will be referred to the nearest cessation clinic," Ubial explained.

With 16 million smokers in the Philippines, Ubial said they are already looking into the possibility of PhilHealth covering the services and alternatives available for smokers who want to quit, such as replacement therapy.

"You get it through candies and other devices and then you start weaning off, kasi (because) it's addictive. Ang ginagawa sa ating (What we'll do in the) cessation clinics, although we're promoting that cold turkey is the best, 'yung talagang stop (you stop immediately), some people cannot do that," Ubial explained.

Aside from the national hotline, the health department said a mobile application for smoking cessation is also in the works. –

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.