Smokers who need help to kick the habit can soon turn to a National Quitline, where they only have to dial a number that provides smoking quitting services. The quitline is just one among several programmes that government will roll out in its bid to curb tobacco smoking, following the signing of the Executive Order expanding the ban on cigarette smoking.
Expect the National Quitline number to be displayed in public areas and conveyances. There shall also be a smoking cessation application for mobile phones as well as more accessible quitting services in hospitals and communities. Practice guidelines for healthcare professionals are already being drafted.
“We’ve been having a lot of capacity building in terms of smoking cessation in the past years. For this year, because of the EO, we will be having the launch of the National Quitline and also the M-Cessation, or the mobile application for smoking cessation will be made available,” Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said in a press conference.
“So that when people decide that they want to quit, they can readily call the hotline and be referred to the nearest cessation clinic,” she said.
The quitline will lead to counselling and dissemination of materials pertinent to quitting smoking, and a referral to facilities.
The department will also offer replacement therapy as there are people who still cannot do ‘cold turkey’ or abruptly stop smoking.
“When we talk about services, we also offer pharmaceuticals. There are alternatives. [These are] patches or even candies and replacement therapy,” added the Secretary.
The department is also looking to have assistance from PhilHealth, the state-run health insurer, to cover the 15.9 million smokers in the country - with data coming from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS 2015).
For the health professionals, Dr Maricar Limpin, Executive Director of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance (FCTC) Philippines, assured that the DOH, in partnership with the Philippine College of Chest Physician, is working to come up with a clinical practice guideline for the healthcare professionals regarding smoking cessation to use with their patients who are willing to quit.
Annually, tobacco use kills 87,000 Filipinos - more than the number of total deaths from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined, according to DOH.
Lastly, the department hopes “to provide easy access to cessation services in all hospitals, health centres and even in community and school facilities,” according to Secretary Ubial. MIMS