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Country in a ‘win-win-win’ situation with increased cigarette tax—WHO

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that raising taxes on cigarette will be a “win-win-win” situation and can save around 460,000 lives.

According to WHO representative to the Philippines, Gundo Weiler, on Monday (June 3) excise taxes on cigarette is a win for the economy.

“We know that individually, especially for the poorest segment of the society, increasing [the price of] tobacco will actually help them save money. They spend less on cigarettes. They will spend less on unnecessary health care,” he said.

Weiler adds that the collected tax can be used to fund the government’s Universal Health Care (UHC).

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#WorldBloodDonorDay: WHO urges people to give blood, save lives

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged the public to donate blood ahead of the celebration of the World Blood Donor Day on June 14 (Friday).

In a Twitter post, the WHO Philippines called on the public to participate in a blood donation drive they will organize with the Philippine Blood Center on June 13 (Thursday).

The bloodletting activity will be held in Sta. Cruz town, Manila from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“In early celebration of #WorldBloodDonorDay, WHO Philippines will be organizing a blood donation drive on 13 June, with the Philippine Blood Center,” the WHO Philippines announced.

“Join us at our office inside the @DOHgov compound from 9am to 4pm. Donate blood, save lives!” the agency added.   

According to the WHO website, the theme for this year’s campaign is blood donation and universal access to safe blood transfusion, as a component of achieving universal health coverage.   

The slogan “Safe blood for all” was also developed to raise awareness on the universal need for safe blood in the delivery of health care and the crucial roles that voluntary donations play in achieving the goal of universal health coverage.

The WHO said the theme aims to strongly encourage more people all over the world to donate blood regularly, and to urge all governments and health authorities to provide adequate resources and implement systems to increase blood collection, promote/implement appropriate clinical use of blood, and to set up policies for the oversight and surveillance on the whole chain of blood transfusion.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III emphasized the need for blood especially during rainy season when mosquito-borne disease called dengue is more prevalent in the Philippines.

“That’s the time when you will have to consider ensuring availability of blood. In areas of identified hotspots, you have to ensure that delivery units have adequate stock of blood,” Duque said.

Aside from raising awareness, according to the WHO, the event also “serves to thank voluntary, unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood.”The host country for World Blood Donor Day 2019 is Rwanda and the global event will be held in Kigali on June 14.

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Don’t let tobacco take your breath away—WHO

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Sunday, June 2nd, 2019

FILE PHOTO: An illustration picture shows cigarettes in their pack, October 8, 2014. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/Illustration

Tobacco kills one person every four seconds, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

This World No Tobacco Day, the WHO reiterates the deadly effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoking.

According to the WHO’s statement, “the campaign also serves as a call to action, advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption and engaging stakeholders across multiple sectors in the fight for tobacco control.”

Once you decide to quit smoking, here are the benefits of smoking cessation.

1. There are immediate and long-term health benefits of quitting for all smokers.

Beneficial health changes that take place:

  • Within 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  • 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  • 2-12 weeks, your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
  • 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
  • 1 year, your risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of a smoker’s.
  • 5 years, your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 to 15 years after quitting.
  • 10 years, your risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker and your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decreases.
  • 15 years, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker’s.
2. People of all ages who have already developed smoking-related health problems can still benefit from quitting.

Benefits in comparison with those who continued:

  • At about 30: gain almost 10 years of life expectancy.
  • At about 40: gain 9 years of life expectancy.
  • At about 50: gain 6 years of life expectancy.
  • At about 60: gain 3 years of life expectancy.
  • After the onset of life-threatening disease: rapid benefit, people who quit smoking after having a heart attack reduce their chances of having another heart attack by 50%.
3. Quitting smoking decreases the excess risk of many diseases related to second-hand smoke in children.

Quitting smoking decreases the excess risk of many diseases related to second-hand smoke in children, such as respiratory diseases (e.g., asthma) and ear infections.

4. Others benefits.

Quitting smoking reduces the chances of impotence, having difficulty getting pregnant, having premature births, babies with low birth weights and miscarriage.

So choose health, not tobacco.

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WHO: Tobacco kills 8 million each year; e-cigarettes, not a proven alternative

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 30th, 2019

FILE PHOTO – A cigarette burns in an ashtray at a pub in Prague, Czech Republic, May 8, 2017. REUTERS/David W Cerny

Tobacco kills eight million people each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Wednesday (May 29), ahead of World No Tobacco Day on Friday (May 31).

The WHO said 40 percent of tobacco victims die from lung diseases and about one million from second-hand smoke.

More than 60,000 children under 5 years old die of lower respiratory infections caused by second-hand smoke, WHO director for non-communicable diseases, Vinayak Prasad, said in a briefing.

“Out of these 8 million, we have about 3.3 million — about 40% — of these deaths, due to lung diseases. What are these lung diseases: cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and even tuberculosis,” said WHO Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases Director, Dr. Vinayak Prasad.

Globally, there are around 1.1 billion smokers.

Anti-tobacco campaigns and measures are bearing fruit, but mostly in high-income countries, Prasad said, while the smoking population remained constant or even increased in low-income countries, where the tobacco industry is now focusing sales efforts.

Prasad issued a caveat on e-cigarettes, saying there is no evidence proving they are a safer alternative to cigarettes, warning that it normalizes smoking and hooks young people.

“There is a perception that these are safe products and it is actually hitting the market and the group which is most vulnerable — children, teenage children…So it is a problem we are seeing in a number of countries now,” he said.

The WHO recommends that e-cigarettes be subjected to the same guidelines as for tobacco products, meaning non-smokers should be protected from second-hand smoke, pregnant women should be prohibited from using them, and advertising content must be regulated.

“These products (e-cigarettes) are not smokeless, these products are tobacco products, so there are two big things: one is these are tobacco products, and our recommendations as WHO (World Health Organization) is ‘please regulate them as tobacco products’. The claims that these are less harmful… We don’t know,” he said.

“There is no evidence to demonstrate that and therefore we follow the precautionary principle: take precautions, treat them as tobacco products, and regulate them, the way you regulate for other products,” he added.

Earlier this week, more than 100 public health and anti-tobacco organizations called on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to take swift action to curb advertising of tobacco products on their platforms.

This is after a Reuters report documented how cigarette maker Philip Morris International has used young personalities on Instagram to sell a new “heated tobacco” product called IQOS. (REUTERS)

READ: Rules on use of e-cigarettes, vapes out next week – DOH

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