THE New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) is reminding the public to keep popular vacation spots healthy and free of the deadly cigarette smoke.

According to NVAP President Emer Rojas, they are hoping that those enjoying their summer vacations in popular destinations such as Baguio City, Boracay Island, Batangas and elsewhere will be kept healthy both for first-hand and second-hand smoke.

“We appeal to our people to help maintain the summer season healthy and safe, especially for vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant women, the elderly, and persons with disabilities,” said Rojas.

“Let us enjoy the summer season without carrying the risks of getting sick from smoking-related illnesses,” he furthered.

Data from the Tobacco Atlas shows that tobacco products contain 7,000 harmful chemicals, including 70 carcinogens or cancer-causing ingredients.

Cigarette smoking is blamed for close to 90,000 annual deaths due to cancer, stroke, and cardiovascular and respiratory ailments in the Philippines.

It is estimated that 24 million Filipinos are exposed to tobacco smoke on a daily basis.

Aside from being harmful to health, Rojas also pointed that smoking is causing damage to the environment.

Aside from being a contributing factor to air pollution, cigarette smoking is also responsible to solid waste pollution.

“The tobacco products are causing major ecological damage that ultimately result to harm to human and animal life,” said Rojas.

According to the Tobacco Atlas, an estimated 4.5 trillion butts of the estimated 6 trillion consumed cigarettes globally are being deposited into the environment each year. Cigarette butts takes 5 years before they are dissolved.

In addition, the Tobacco Atlas also pointed that cigarette butts have emerged as a common cause of wildfires, thus, becoming a threat to life, property, and forest lands.

Rojas, called on law enforcement agencies to strictly police public areas in common vacation spots against violators of tobacco-control measures.

“The law prohibits smoking in public areas. We call on our law enforcers to strictly enforce smoking bans and help lessen health risks to the public,” said Rojas.

Rojas is a stage four laryngeal cancer survivor. He lost his vocal cords due to smoking and now helps in raising the awareness on cancer.

Section 5 of Republic Act 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act enforces smoking ban in all public areas such as hospitals, medical clinics, schools, public transportation terminals, recreational places, shopping malls, movie houses, hotels, and restaurants.

Under the law, a first-time offender can be slapped with between P500-P1,000 in fine or an eight-hour community work. A second offense can be penalized with between P1,000-P5,000 in fine or 16 hours of community service.

Rojas, meanwhile, urged local government units (LGUs) to provide text and graphic health warnings in common vacation spots to properly inform the public on the dangers of smoking.

“While we wait for the implementation of the graphic health warning (GHW) law to be implemented, it is imperative for LGUs to compensate it by placing health warnings showing the perils of cigarette smoking,” said Rojas.

To recall, NVAP strongly supported the passage of the Republic Act No. 10643 or the GHW Law, wherein tobacco manufacturers are mandated to place picture health warnings in cigarette packs. It is expected that the tobacco companies shall be coming out with GHW compliant cigarette packs by the first quarter of 2016.

Millions of Filipinos usually troop to Baguio City, the Summer Capital of the Philippines; and in the beaches of Boracay, Palawan, Batangas, Subic, and Quezon to spend their vacation.