Issue of November 10, 2019
Mt. Province
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Survey shows smoke ban works as youth smokers in city drops
by Aileen P. Refuerzo

The recent survey on smoking prevalence among youth aged 12 to 18 years proved that “multi-faceted (anti-smoking) strategies provided by the community in general” have been effective in discouraging adolescents in the city from smoking tobacco.

In the recently released Baguio City Youth Tobacco Survey (BCYTS) 2019 conducted by the City Health Service Office under City Health Officer Rowena Galpo and the St. Louis University School of Medicine Department of Family and Community Medicine under Medical Officer IV Dr. Nelson Hora, the survey team noted: “Overall, the indicators of smoking cessation among the smoking members of Baguio City youth this 2019 show positive effects of” the strategies.  

The survey showed a significant decrease in smoking prevalence among adolescents classified as “ever youth smokers” or those who ever smoked cigarettes even one or two puffs, which dropped from 43.20 percent in 2016 to 21.71 percent this year and “current youth smokers” or those who smoked cigarettes at any time during the past 30 days which declined to 28 percent to only 12 percent. 

The rate of susceptibility of the “never” tobacco smokers to tobacco use also marginally decreased to only 1.97 percent from 10.55 percent in 2014 and 5.44 percent in 2016.

“This implies that the implementation of the laws and ordinances are in effect. Health promotion targeting youth can be strengthened to prevent susceptible youth from smoking cigarettes,” the survey noted. 

The BCYTS 2019 conducted by Hora and 29 fourth year medical students of SLU School of Medicine is a follow-up study of the 2014 and 2016 surveys that aimed to evaluate the trends of tobacco use and their determinants among Filipino youths and aids in the monitoring on the progress of the implementation of the national law, local policies and ordinances and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

It used the Global Youth Tobacco Survey standard guidelines with a total of 1,423 student-respondents from 12 public junior high schools answering questionnaires on tobacco use on the six determinants: access/availability, exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS), media and advertising, school curriculum, knowledge and attitudes towards tobacco, and smoking cessation.

Apart from the apparent decrease in smoking among youth, the study also revealed that a “greater portion of the youth have thought and tried to stop smoking, are less exposed to second hand smoke in public places, have less access to cigarette, are more exposed to anti-tobacco messages, and are more knowledgeable about the harm of tobacco.” 

“However, some are still being offered a free tobacco product from a tobacco company, more exposed to second-hand smoke at home and less taught in school about the dangers of tobacco use.” 

The study showed increasing trends in “currently smoking adolescents who attempted to stop smoking” and in “young current smokers who believe to be able to quit once they wanted to;” and it also increased from 73.28 percent in 2014. The 2016 study did not reveal the data. 

However, those “who want to stop smoking immediately” decreased. 

“This may be interpreted that anti-smoking campaigns this year are serving its purpose to encourage smokers to quit but there are still some individual factors that affect this decision like the number of sticks smoked per day and the number of packs per year,” the survey said.

The survey also found that among students exposed to tobacco smoke, almost two in five or 39.85 percent admitted being exposed at home and 54.08 percent were exposed inside enclosed public places. However, there was a decreased exposure to secondhand smoke in enclosed public places. 

“Smoking continues to happen at home, even showing a slight increase when compared to BCYTS 2016. Health promotion targeting adult members of the households in the community should be strengthened to counter smoking at homes and exposure of the youth to second hand cigarette smoke in their respective homes as adolescents are at an impressionable age and are vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke.”

The survey also showed that “in terms of access and availability, majority usually purchase cigarette from a store or shop and there is still a considerable percentage of our minor age group who tried to buy cigarettes were not prevented from buying despite their young age.” 

“Despite prohibition of sale of tobacco to minors, it is apparent that cigarettes continue to be accessed by the youth mainly through a store or shop and some are being tolerated by the vendors despite their young age. Therefore, there is still the need for stricter monitoring especially in these sales outlets, sari-sari store and enforcement of relevant laws prohibiting sale to minors.” 

“As young people prefer to buy stick/s rather than by pack/s, it is suggested to consider mandating via legislations prohibiting the sale by stick. Many studies indicate that price is a deterrent to buying cigarette among youth, thus the implementation of the Sin Tax Law.”

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