Make Christmas parties smoke-free. That’s the call of the New Vois Association of the Philippines, a cancer advocate and anti-smoking group.

Aside from indulging in food during the Christmas holidays, people are also prone to smoking more at this time, increasing the risk of cancer not only for the smoker but victims of secondhand smoke.

The best gift a smoker can give their loved ones is the gift of health, according to NVAP president Emer Rojas.

“It will not only be a good gift for ourselves to maintain good health, but also to show care for your loved ones by protecting them from secondhand smoke,” he was quoted as saying.

The Filipino dining table is traditionally laden with a huge selection of dishes, while alcohol is a staple. The food along with prolonged periods of conversation make the atmosphere very conducive to smoking.

Smokers expose their party companions to the hazards of secondhand smoking, or the involuntary inhalation of smoke coming from cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The American Cancer Society noted that secondhand smoke is a combination of two kinds of smokes: that from tobacco itself and those from environmental sources. Smokers and non-smokers alike breathe the same toxic substances.

Secondhand smoking has been known to cause cancer, with over 7,000 chemicals emitted, 70 of which may cause cancers such as in the larynx, pharynx, brain, bladder and nasal sinuses, among others.

Unfortunately, in the Philippines over 15 million people are said to be smokers, while 24 million are exposed to tobacco smoke daily.

Mr. Rojas underscored that a healthy and smoke-free Christmas party will not rob attendees of the “joy of being with our loved ones” while sharing food, drinks and stories with them.

Since many party venues are held in public places, the NVAP said there should be a stricter implementation of the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 provisions, specifically that which states that smoking is prohibited in public places.

Their call was likewise prompted by the non-approval of the Executive Order imposing a complete smoking ban nationwide.

President Rodrigo Duterte deferred action on the EO, citing further need to study its economic impact.

The EO would have added teeth to the law by discouraging smokers from continuing with their hazardous habits. MIMS

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