Dictates of Society: Why Not Now?

Cigarettes. They are illness-provoking, pollution-causing, useless little sticks. I don’t need to expound on that here. There are many articles on paper and online that talks about the detrimental ingredients found in a single cigarette.

So, what’s the big deal? I’m talking to the spineless who are unwilling to give up their stick-suckling habit for the good of everyone else.

I wrote an editorial in 2012 for my previous school’s college organization’s publication, La OBRA (Lasallian Organization for Broadcast and Related Arts), called “Drop the Cigarette,” in which I encouraged fellow students in health and medical courses to be concerned about their fellow people. I sought that it may be possible for us to influence the people around us, whether or not we knew them personally, to drop the habit. But how futile of it knowing now that there are people in health care and medical professions who resist and even despise such change in themselves. They cling to so many excuses, they insist on psychological issues, and they persist to smoke despite the risks.

Cigarette-smoking is suicide. There is no doubt about that. As Dr. Philip S. Chua explains in his article written in 2002 for the Philippine Inquirer “Smoking is Slow Suicide,” cigarette-health risk issues are dealt with a great dichotomy. Our government claims to be doing everything to “discourage” people from smoking, but with the power to ban these deadly inventions (—and for good reason!), instead, they let these tobacco companies succeed in the country, at the very least even benefit from the tax they accumulate from brain-washed or addicted consumers.

But cigarette-smoking is not just slow-suicide. It is also slow-murder. If you care about your kids, your friends, your family—the people who are victims of second-hand smoking, I urge you to take in this fact. If you smoke around them, you are killing them.

Are we content in a society with mediocre ways of dealing with cigarette-smoking? There are many ordinances including laws that prohibit smoking in public—which includes public vehicles and places. The LTFRB (Land Transportation and Franchising and Regulatory Board) does provide a memorandum for No-Smoking signs in public conveyances, but they are hardly taken as an order rather than a suggestion. Why, aren’t sidewalks public places? Isn’t it illegal to light a cigarette and smoke while walking your way from LRT Central Station to SM City Manila? Maybe I don’t know how specific the Tobacco Regulation Act or RA 9211 is, but if it isn’t prohibited to smoke in public places, especially those with the tendency to crowd, what’s the point?

And no wonder people can’t take the law seriously because those who are supposed to implement the law are the ones who disregards it—the very first ones to take lightly of the facts of this issue.

If our country’s government has no plans to totally eradicate smoking, and kick-out these cigarette companies for fear of consequences to the economy, when can we start? Why not now?

Davao is a city with many accomplishments thanks to the administration of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. It has been a smoke-free city for 12 years, and was hailed the first smoke-free metropolitan city in Southeast Asia. Each city can learn from their persistence and determination. We don’t need to follow in the footsteps of other “better” or “developed” country every time. If our country or government idealizes change that would be beneficial to our country, we don’t have to wait for the results of success of it in other countries but persist our own.

Let them follow.

For if we wait, one day we can never go back. Even now, there are already some closed-minded citizens in this country who insist to legalize the use of ‘other’ addictive substances and/or drugs, just because ‘they’re’ doing it.

This ignites the rage of my patriotic side, for my idea of patriotism is not merely of the language we speak or of the physical nor of people. True patriotism, I believe, involves a trust that our country, being the way it is—us as a society—could still produce better things (ideas, results, and people) than most other countries—and one of those is to become a smoke-free country.

Let’s not be pessimists on this issue. Let’s no longer wait. Why not, you ask? Why not now?

Sign Petition at Change.org

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