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DOH reports 'biggest drop in smokers in Philippine history'
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- The number of smokers in the country decreased by 1.1 million from 17 million in 2009 to 15.9 million in 2015, the Department of Health reported Monday - the most dramatic drop in smoking prevalence "in Philippine history", according to Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial.

The 2015 Philippines' Global Adult Survey shows that the prevalence of tobacco use among Filipinos 15 years and above dropped from 29.7 percent in 2009 to 23.8 percent in 2015, Ubial told reporters during a press conference in Manila.

"One million Filipinos have quit tobacco use - the biggest decline we have seen in Philippine history, and we can do more to stop the suffering caused by this epidemic," Ubial said. She said the reduction means at least a million Filipinos now have lower risk of developing cancer, heart ailments, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

She further reported that the number of victims of second-hand smoke at home has dropped significantly from 54 percent in 2009 to 34 percent in 2015; and in the workplace from 32 percent in 2009 to 21 percent in 2015.

The survey, however, revealed that exposure to second-hand smoke remains high at 86 percent in bars and nightclubs, and 33.6 percent in restaurants.

Ubial said the Sin Tax Law or Republic Act 10351 made cigarette products more inaccessible, and credited the tax measure for the dramatic drop in the number of Filipino smokers. She also said that progress and achievement in tobacco control policies and advocacy should be pushed further by maintaining a unitary tax excise structure for tobacco products.