DOH sees trend of quitting smokers; offers Quitline service

MANILA-- The Department of Health (DOH) said Monday it sees a decline in the number of smokers now that the nationwide smoking ban or Executive Order 26 is in full swing.

More smokers are expected to kick the habit that is known to cause cardiovascular diseases and cancer cases, DOH Secretary Paulyn Ubial said.

"We expect more calls in the DOH Quit Line as the implementation of smoking ban happens," said Ubial.

Since last month's launch of QuitLine, the DOH has been getting an average of 20 calls per day.

She said they are hopeful that Davao City's success in the smoking ban can also be achieved through the nationwide ban on smoking in public.

"That was the experience in Davao. When we implemented the smoking ban in public places, many smokers decided to quit altogether," said Ubial.

She said smokers will find it difficult to continue the habit since there are fewer areas in establishments that they are allowed to smoke.

Under the EO, only one designated smoking area (DSA) is allowed in a building, mall or establishment.

According to DOH, construction of DSA is quite costly as it will require a buffer zone and ventilation that separate the DSA from the non-smoking area. DSAs should close automatically so that cigarette smoke will not be inhaled by non-smokers. Land areas for DSAs should also be 20 percent of the size of a building or mall.

Most establishments admitted that they cannot comply on putting up DSAs the soonest possible time.

Due to this, establishments are advised to put up a "No Smoking" sign.

In a separate interview, DOH Spokesperson Dr. Eric Tayag said "we are anticipating that there would be a surge in the number of those looking to quit smoking, that is why we established the QuitLine."

Tayag said smokers can call DOH QuitLine (165364) where smokers can get advice on steps how to quit smoking.

Aside from that, there will be a mobile-based cessation program that can be availed simply thru texting 'STOPSMOKE' to (29290)165364.

Tayag said the DOH QuitLine aims to supplement the expected shortage of local smoking cessation clinics.

"One way we can comply with the EO 26 is by putting up the Quit Line, which is easy to call. It is very similar to cessation clinics," he said.

He said the department is in the process of establishing more smoking cessation clinics across the country.

"We don't have enough. But, in the EO, we have been ordered by the President to hasten the establishment of the smoking cessation clinics," said Tayag.

Section 8 of the EO 26 provides that all local government units (LGUs) must work with the DOH in the establishment of smoking cessation clinics.

The EO 26 took effect Sunday (July 23) nationwide wherein smoking in all enclosed public places and public conveyances, except in designated smoking areas, were totally prohibited.

The EO was described by smoking advocate New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) as a sign of strong political will of the President to protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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