December 4, 2022

In its long-term campaign against smoking, Baguio considers quitters as winners instead of being losers.

The city government is strengthening its support to tobacco users in the challenge to give up the smoking habit for good as part of the World Tobacco Day observance every May 31.

Councilor Joel Alangsab on Monday said in support of the World Health Organization’s “commit to quit” campaign this year, the city through the Smoke-free Program reaches out to traditional smokers and those who use electronic cigarettes and vaping products by offering cessation programs and counselling to help them to quit.

“Quitting tobacco is challenging, especially with other social and economic stresses brought by the pandemic. The behavioral and emotional ties to tobacco use – having a cigarette upon waking up, smoking while having coffee or after eating, having cigarette while in the comfort room, while reading, and or when feeling sad or stressed – make it hard to break,” Alangsab said.

With adequate support, he said the city through the “Commit to Quit” campaign wants to help those who would like to quit for good.

The City Health Services Office has conducted training among doctors and nurses of the 16 district health centers on how to conduct counselling and set up smoking cessation clinics in collaboration with the Baguio General Hospital.

A total of P170,000 worth of nicotine patches were also purchased and given for free to quitters, taking the fund from the penalties collected under the Smoke-free Ordinance of Baguio.

Around 67 individuals have availed of the counselling service and seven of them have successfully finished the 12-week program and up to now have not tasted a single cigarette, and others are still undergoing the program.

The clients are call center agents, pony boys, Public Order and safety Division enforcers, barangay officials, drivers, and betel nut users.

Other services that can be availed of by smokers who are interested to quit are the national free toll quit line 1558 and the chat box support program of the Department of Health and WHO.

“If before we have a saying ‘Quitters are losers,’ now in the smoke-free program, the quitters are the winners. Be a winner. Quit smoking and vaping for you and your loved ones,” Alangsab said.

The youth has also committed to support the campaign. Councilor Levy Lloyd Orcales, as Sangguniang Kabataan Federation president, debunked claims that using vape or e-cigarette could help a smoker to quit.

“While vaping is less harmful, it is still not safe. E-cigarettes and vapes also have heavy metals and other chemicals that are toxic to the human body. It led to records of confirmed deaths due to associated lung injuries. These are addictive, similar to traditional cigarettes and are not an effective and efficient way to stop smoking,” he said.

Orcales added it is not enough that everybody knows the dangers and ill-effects of traditional tobacco and e-cigarettes to the health.

“We should not stop with awareness. It must lead us to collective action that brings to a stop the use of tobacco, for your health and for the health of your family. We call everyone to join us in this fight,” Orcales said.

Worldwide, around 780 million people say they want to quit but only 30 percent of them have access to tools that can help them do so.

Alangsab said the Covid-19 pandemic has also led to millions tobacco users to smoke at home, therefore exposing their family members to ill-effects of second and third hand smoke.

The WHO launched the year-long campaign in response to views that smokers are more likely to develop severe Covid-19 compared to non-smokers. – Hanna C. Lacsamana