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 danger.

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.

According to Ana Maria R. Nemenzo, WomanHealth Philippines National Coordinator

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

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.

Source: DOH

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