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To Quit Or Not To Quit (Updated With Reactions)

May 25, 2010

This should really be a non-issue – the matter of President-apparent Noynoy Aquino   rising to the challenge of giving up smoking.

But it has become one with  Mr. Aquino himself expressing annoyance:

“Noong tumakbo ako, alam ng taumbayan [na] naninigarilyo ako. At the appropriate time na hihinto ako, titigil ako. So long as nako-control ako sa mga batas at wala akong naiistorbo baka parte ito ng kalayaan kong natitira (When I ran for the presidency everyone knew I was a smoker. Perhaps I will kick the habit at the appropriate time. But for now, I hope people give me this leeway, as part of my remaining rights).

Here’s what Aquino is up against:

Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral: “Kaya sabi ng isang anti-smoking advocate maawa siya sa PSG, mahirap siyang i-secure kung lalabas siya 10 meters away from the building sa Malacañang (An anti-smoking advocate had commented Aquino should take pity on the Presidential Security Group. It will be hard to secure him if he decides to smoke 10 meters away from a government building such as Malacañang).”

Under Republic Act 9211 and the Civil Service Commission, smoking may constitute a violation of office rules and procedures.

Civil Service Commission  Memorandum Circular 17 (signed by then chairman Ricardo Saludo on May 29, 2009):  “smoking shall be absolutely prohibited in or on the premises, buildings and grounds of government agencies providing health, education and/or social welfare and development.”

The edict prohibits smoking in areas anywhere in or on the government premises, buildings and grounds, except for open spaces designated as “smoking areas.”

It defines a smoking area as located in an open space, and should not be located within 10 meters of entrances, exits or where people congregate.

Also, the smoking area cannot be larger than 10 square meters. Government buildings should not have more than one designated smoking area.

Smoking shall be prohibited in government vehicles.

Building administrators in government areas are to ensure strict compliance with the requirements of the smoking area.

Any violation shall be ground for disciplinary action, the CSC circular said.

RA 9211

Under Republic Act 9211, smoking shall be absolutely prohibited in the following public places:

* Centers of youth activity such as playschools, preparatory schools, elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities, youth hostels and recreational facilities for persons under 18 years old;

* Elevators and stairwells;

* Locations in which fire hazards are present, including gas stations and storage areas for flammable liquids, gas, explosives or combustible materials;

* Within the buildings and premises of public and private hospitals, medical, dental, and optical clinics, health centers, nursing homes, dispensaries and laboratories;

* Public conveyances and public facilities including airport and ship terminals and train and bus stations, restaurants and conference halls, except for separate smoking areas; and

* Food preparation

It must grate Aquino to have to be reminded of these rules as he emarks on leading the nation hungry for reforms.

But he is expected to set an example and ith enough resolve has the option of quitting ‘cold turkey’ or adopting proven ways to get rid of nicotine addiction.

You can do it, Sir.


I’ve gotten quite several reaction from friend about this pot.

This one’s representative:

“Give him a break. It does not make him a lesser being if he does not quit now, he made a promise in the future anyway. Obama is a known smoker and so does FVR, that’s why he was referred as “Tabako”, so why make a big deal out of smoking.”

I can agree with this point of view.

There are larger issues here, however.

The matter of a leader being a role model, particularly for the youth, for one, and then there’s abiding concern for one’s health – the nation’s leader, specifically.

Oh sure we can wave this away as trivial.

But the health of the President, popular or not, is a public concern given the abiding importance the chief executive plays in our lives.

Like it or not, our next President is in a fish bowl and it is his responsibility to always be transparent and accountable.

Yes, even for his own health.

From a male reader comes this reaction:

“If you smoke, it’s always a good time to quit. Smoking can cause cancer, heart disease, and emphysema. Smoking can also cause vascular disease and inhibit circulation. This is especially relevant to men who have erectile dysfunction (ED), because proper circulation to all areas of the body, including the genital area, can make it difficult to … See Moreachieve and maintain an erection. Men who smoke are about twice as likely to develop ED than nonsmokers”…and yup he wants to get married soon to a much younger mate…”

This is this article’s raison d’etre – to nudge Mr. Aquino in a positive way and not to pick on him.

We owe him this much.

So does he.

Former President Fidel V. Ramos, the cigar chomper that he is, also remains deeply respected by this writer and legions of others.

And like President-to-be Noynoy Filipinos wish him continue good health and long life.

Nuff said. 🙂

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