The tobacco industry is not like any other industry. It is “unique in that it is an industry that produces a product that kills half its customers prematurely. This amounts to more than 500, 000 deaths in the ASEAN region a year and 6 million deaths worldwide,” reports the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (2015) in its Tobacco Industry Interference Index: 2015 ASEAN Report on Implementation of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Article 5.3.

According to the Tobacco Burden Facts- Philippines of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) (2017), “over 103, 600 Filipinos die from smoking-related diseases each year,” based on the Global Burden of Disease (2015). CTFK (2017) further reports that “the economic cost of smoking-related diseases in 2003 was estimated at 6 billion USD, including healthcare and lost productivity costs (Eriksen, 2015).”

Despite being aware of the harms that their product causes societies, the tobacco industry still employs “tactics to circumvent tobacco control measures, glamorize smoking, and downplay or deny the addictive, harmful nature of tobacco products.”

Today, the Department of Education joins the commemoration of the death of the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr, and quotes Aquino: “I will never be able to forgive myself if I will have to live with the knowledge that I could have done something and I did not do anything.”

In the message of President Rodrigo Duterte on Aquino’s death anniversary,┬áthe President echoed the late senator’s famous line, “The Filipino is worth dying for.” ┬áThe President, in his message, further reminds Filipinos to “aspire for the common good- even if one must go against the grain– and do what is necessary.”

Today, as we reflect on Aquino’s words of wisdom, let us realize that we all can do something for the common good: We can help ensure the effective implementation of tobacco control policies in schools, for the health of our stakeholders, for the welfare of our youth.

Read more about DepEd’s Policy and Guidelines on Comprehensive Tobacco Control here.