Run for a smoke-free environment
The World Health Organization (WHO) celebrates World No Tobacco Day by joining the Department of Health (DOH) in a fun run and cycling event for women’s health dubbed “Run For Your Life, Gurl.” The event took place at the vicinity of Quezon City hall grounds and was participated in by women, men and children who are all making a stand against the relentless marketing campaigns of the billion-dollar tobacco industry that targets women and teenagers.
In celebrating World No Tobacco Day 2010, the main focus is on the harm which tobacco marketing and smoking do to women. WHO’s growing concern stems from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) done in the Philippines in 2009 which showed that 2.7 million out of the 17.3 million smokers in the country are women. Men smoked an average of 11.3 cigarettes per day while women smoked 7.0 cigarettes per day. Based on the Global Youth Tobacco Survey done in the country in 2007, 4 out of 10 students 12 to 17 years old who use tobacco products are girls.
The tobacco industry has found a new target market in women belonging to middle income and low-income countries. Through the years, women have become more and more independent financially and have gained spending power thus they are able to afford cigarettes. Young women are likewise attracted by the so-called `glamour’ and `cool’ image of women smokers. The tobacco industry dupes many women into believing that smoking is a sign of liberation and women wrongly view smoking as a way to keep slim.
Dr Soe Nyunt-U, WHO Country Representative, said that “women should assert their human rights by saying no to smoking and second-hand smoke. The Philippines is a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and it is a woman's and of course, everyone's right, to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health."
There is an increase in health risk from women and young girls who smoke. Smoking increases the risk for both men and women of dying prematurely from cancer, heart attack, and stroke. Women have the added risk of experiencing infertility and delays in conceiving than those who do not. Maternal smoking during pregnancy increases the risks of premature delivery, stillbirth and newborn death and may cause a reduction in breast milk. Evidence shows that women develop lung cancer with lower levels of smoking compared to men, are more at risk of contracting the more aggressive small cell lung cancer and of developing potentially fatal chronic pulmonary disease.
According to Dr. Florante Trinidad, WHO National Professional Officer for Tobacco Free Initiatives, “the World No Tobacco Day is also a day of celebration as the Philippines begins fulfilling the obligations under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control through the enactment of a policy issuance on graphic health information by the DOH. This type of packaging would counter the tobacco industry strategy of luring the youth and women into addiction through attractive and colorful packs."
“RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, GURL” is a statement from anti-tobacco groups from the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines, National Commission on Women, Philippine College of Chest Physicians, Philippine League of Government and Private Midwives, Inc., Eco Waste Coalition, Smoke-Free Valenzuela, Piglas Kababaihan, and other health advocates who have all expressed alarm at the increasing number of women smokers. Placards and posters bearing messages like “Tobacco-Free, It’s a Woman’s Rights,” “Smoking is Ugly,” “Glamour? No. Mouth Cancer,” “Style? No. Gangrene.” were carried by participants during the fun run.
World No Tobacco Day 2010 Fun Run was also participated in and supported by the local government units in Metro Manila.