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Press Release/19 May 2010

Women’s groups belonging to WomanHealth Philippines joined the other civil society groups
criticizing the tobacco industry for proliferating deceptive marketing gimmicks to lure more
women into smoking and for putting the lives of Filipino women most especially the young, in

The groups coming from the urban poor and farmer sectors raised the alarm of more women
being exposed to the deadly smoking addiction, causing them to unnecessarily suffer from
diseases that are otherwise preventable.

“More young women will be convinced to embrace this addiction if the government fails to
decisively act and prevent the tobacco industry from further victimizing our young children. The
government cannot afford to stay at the sidelines while the industry continues to prey on our
children,” said Ana Maria R. Nemenzo, WomanHealth Philippines National Coordinator.

Young Filipino women who use any tobacco product comprise 19.6% of the total respondents of
the Global Youth Tobacco Survey in 2007. The prevalence increased when the young Filipino
women comprise only 13% of the total respondents of the same survey in 2003. Meanwhile, the
Global Adult Tobacco Survey done in 2009 reported that 2.8 million Filipino women aged 15
years and older currently smoke tobacco.

“We urge Health Secretary Cabral to institute administrative measures to put more effective
health information in cigarette packs to effectively counter the aggressive marketing strategies of
the tobacco industry. The statistics on girls as young as 13 years becoming addicted to smoking
is really alarming and increases the reproductive health risks for those who would become
mothers some day,” Mercy Fabros, WomanHealth Advocacy and Campaign Coordinator,
pointed out.

Studies conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) revealed that the risk of
heart attack for women who smoke and use oral contraception is greater than for non-smokers.
The studies also found that pregnant women who smoke are twice as likely to have a miscarriage
during pregnancy.

The theme of this year’s World No Tobacco Day puts emphasis on the marketing of tobacco to
women. Women are a major target of opportunity for the tobacco industry, which needs to
recruit new users to replace the nearly half of current users who will die prematurely from
tobacco-related diseases.
WomanHealth Philippines is participating in the campaign that will culminate in a Fun Run of
women on May 30, 2010.



Press Release/ 17 May 2010

The Philippine League of Government and Private Midwives Inc. (PLGPMI) raised the alarm on
the effects of smoking and secondhand smoke on maternal and child health and urged the
Department of Health to implement stricter tobacco control policies.

Cecille Banca-Santos, PLGPMI president, said that the little gains the Philippines have in
reducing maternal mortality ratio (MMR) may be jeopardized by the current rate of tobacco use
and secondhand smoke exposure of women of reproductive age.

Smoking and exposure to other people’s cigarette smoke pose a variety of reproductive health
risks on women even before she conceives, during her pregnancy and delivery as well as on her
baby’s health and well-being. These are issues that affect maternal and child deaths.

Medical studies have shown that female smokers take longer to conceive and may even actually
result in a depletion of ova and cause infertility.

Maternal smoking or exposure to smoke during pregnancy is associated with increased

premature detachment of the placenta, abnormal placental attachment to the uterus, abnormal
vaginal bleeding, and ruptured membranes. All of these complications greatly increase the risk of
maternal and neonatal death.

Infants born to maternal smokers are more likely to die before their first birthday than infants
born to nonsmokers primarily due to respiratory illnesses.

Santos explained that MMR reduction has been slow by only 22% from 1993 up to the present
while the country’s target in the Millennium Development Goal No. 5 by 2015 is 75%. This
means the country’s MMR at 162 per 100,000 live births will have to be reduced to 52.5 per
100,000 live births in five years time.

On the other hand, Santos said, the first Global Adult Tobacco Survey (2009) showed 2.8 million
adult women currently smoke and the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (2007) showed an
increased prevalence of smoking among teenage girls from 27% in 2004 to 30% in 2007.
The unabated increase in smoking among female adolescents and adults reflect weaknesses in
the implementation of policies to curb the tobacco epidemic in the country.

The PLGPMI urged the DOH to implement policies that will put prominent pictorial health
warnings in cigarette packs to detract Filipino women, especially teenagers, from the glamour
and appeal of cigarettes.


Press Release/18 March 2010

The Department of Health (DOH) today disclosed that almost

half of the Filipinos surveyed in the first Philippine Global Adult
Tobacco Survey (GATS) revealed that they live in homes where
smoking is allowed.

In coordination with the National Statistics Office, a total of 9,705 individuals in rural and urban
areas of the country 15 years of age and older (to represent 61.3 million Filipinos) were selected
and interviewed in 2009. Of this number, 28.3% were current tobacco smokers, representing 17.3
million Filipinos and 22.5% or approximately 13.8 million Filipinos smoke every day. The
average age of initiation for daily smokers 18-34 years old was 17.4 years old.

The GATS data revealed that almost half (48.8% or 29.8 million) of Filipinos are exposed to
cigarette smoke in their homes and 54% (32.9 million) reported that someone smokes at least
monthly in their homes.

The knowledge, attitude and perception of the respondents that smoking causes serious illness
were very high at 94%; 95.6% believe that smoking can cause lung cancer, heart attack (81.3%)
and stroke (75.5%).

More importantly, among those who work indoors, 65.4% of their worksites have policies
“disallowing” smoking yet 13.9% were exposed to second hand smoke (SHS). More than a
quarter (25.5%) of Filipinos who visited a government building during the past 30 days were
similarly exposed. while 55.3% (28 million) Filipinos who used the public transport during the
past month were exposed to SHS.
“This is why we are urging cigarette manufacturers to put graphic health warnings on their
products”, Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral said, adding that there is also a need to work fast
towards 100% smoke-free environments where there is still very high exposure of second-hand
smoke at homes, public places and indoor places.

Cabral also said that communities and local government units need to address this issue by
passing ordinances to strengthen provisions of RA9211 or the Tobacco Regulatory Act of 2003
on "Healthful Environment" without exemptions.

The GATS is a standardized global survey for systematically monitoring adult tobacco use and
tracking key tobacco control indicators. The Philippine GATS is a joint collaborative effort of
the Philippine Department of Health and the National Statistics Office, the field implementing
agency. Technical support was provided by the World Health Organization and the US Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention.