Anti-smoking advocate calls for a smoke-free Holy Week

MANILA — The New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) has appealed to Filipinos to shun smoking this Holy Week.

“We are hoping that Filipinos would consider not smoking, at least, when they observe the Holy Week traditions,” said NVAP president Emer Rojas.

Rojas, a former chain smoker and throat cancer survivor, called on Filipinos to refrain from smoking during pilgrimages and when conducting the traditional Visita Iglesia.

He pointed out that giving up smoking this Holy Week could serve as penance.

“It is never too late for them (smokers) to make sacrifices and avoid sinful ways against the body. And one healthy way to do so is by inhibiting from smoking, especially during this Holy Week,” Rojas said, noting that as an added benefit, abandoning smoking would also save other people from the dangers of second- and third-hand smoke.

“Second-hand smoke poses similar threats to non-smokers just as smoking cigarettes is to smokers. It is therefore very vital for smokers to prevent their loved ones from inhaling second-hand smoke as they usually travel with their children during Lenten season,” said Rojas.

He said he is looking forward to the time when the much-awaited executive order (EO) on a smoke-free Philippines, which would strengthen the NVAP’s advocacy, shall have been signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Of course, it would have been a healthier observance of Holy Week had the EO for a smoke-free environment already been signed by President Duterte,” lamented Rojas.

Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said the draft of the EO is already with the Office of the President and is just awaiting the Chief Executive’s signature.