Tobacco use is one of the world's leading causes of preventable death, and contributes significantly to the risk of noncommunicable diseases such as cancer, lung and heart disease. Exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke is also harmful to health, causing an estimated 600,000 deaths globally each year.
In the Western Pacific Region, two persons die every minute from tobacco-related disease, and 50% of women and children are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke at home and in public places.
In the Philippines, about half of the male population are smoking. Lung cancer, which is associated to smoking and high levels of exposure to second hand smoke, is the leading form of cancer among men. Every hour, one person dies from lung cancer in the country.
Tobacco tax as a percentage of the retail price is still relatively low in many countries. Many countries have legislation covering tobacco products and an international treaty on tobacco control – the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – has been ratified by 175 countries, including the Philippines.