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Helping reduce the smoking population and disease burden

Thirteen-year-old Alvin Santos (not his real name) is undergoing treatment at the smoking cessation clinic of the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) on Quezon Avenue in Quezon City. During the press conference at the LCP to commemorate “No Smoking Month” (June), he was introduced to the media to stress the increasing number of the youth who are now addicted to smoking.

Alvin is just one of the numerous smokers who wanted to stop their addiction to smoking. He was convinced by his classmates to try cigarette smoking. “Sinubukan ko ito (I tried it).” Because of peer pressure, he became addicted to smoking. The school where he is studying referred him to the LCP smoking cessation clinic. It will not issue the clearance he needs unless he stops smoking.

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Doctors groups underscored the importance of smoking cessation clinics in creating strong community support for patients who wish to quit.

Smoking an addiction

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Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) immediate past president Dr. Anthony Leachon stressed that smoking is an addiction that takes more than just simple willpower to successfully abandon.

Leachon explained: “Ineptitude is the inability to do what is right despite knowledge and education. We are all aware that despite knowing that smoking is bad and that it has adverse health effects, a lot of our countrymen still continue to smoke, or are unable to quit.”

The smoking cessation clinics, according to the doctors groups, are specially designed and designated to receive patients who wish to finally quit smoking. Health professionals manning the clinic guide patients step by step: from initial case assessment to drawing up and observing a strict behavioral plan on quitting.

Among the programs in smoking cessation clinics are valuable pharmacological intervention or medical solutions in order to address the physiological aspects of smoking.

Medical issue

“Most of the time, not until the smoker starts experiencing the health consequences of smoking does he or she realize it is a medical issue that needs to be addressed,” said Dr. Glynna Ong Cabrera, who heads the LCP smoking cessation clinic. Smokers who are seeking help are indeed already suffering from ailments and diseases related to the addiction.

Those who want to stop smoking either come to the clinic in groups or prefer individual treatment.

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Smoking causes lung disease, heart and blood vessel disease, cancer, and other illnesses. It kills 10 Filipinos every hour. Many others suffer years of pain, ill health and discomfort.

The call for the establishment of smoking cessation clinics is in accordance with the findings of the 2011 assssment of the government efforts under the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

For its part, the country has made substantial strides and achievements, said Dr. Maricar Limpin, executive director of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines. “Most important of this is the passing of the sin tax law, the restriction of tobacco advertising and promotion, as well as the application of strong graphic warnings on tobacco products,” Limpin said.

National policy

According to her, many local government units have also made great progress in passing ordinances that prohibit smoking indoors and in public places. To effectively implement the national cessation policy, the significant challenges that the assessment team identified include the need for a coordinated national cessation infrastructure across the country.

Alongside the DOH program focusing on smoking cessation in government hospitals, the PCP is pushing for mandate among its member hospitals to establish smoking cessation centers.

“With this move, we are optimistic in helping bring down the smoking population in the Philippines as well as reduce the burden of disease,” said Leachon.

Also backing the smoking cessation drive in the country is the private sector, like the medical and pharmaceutical industry. “For our part, Pfizer Philippines strongly supports the nationwide campaign against the smoking habit, in line with our ultimate goal of improving health and well-being at every stage of life,” said Gerrard Anthony Paez, corporate affairs director.

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TAGS: diseases, health and wellness, prevention, smoking, treatment
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