The Philippine government called the public on Friday to end the illicit trade of tobacco and focus on the products' graphic health warnings as more Filipinos die due to smoking-related diseases.
Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Janette Garin made the call as the country joins the observance of World No Tobacco Day on May 31.
"World No Tobacco Day is an ideal event to raise awareness on the hazards of tobacco use because approximately 240 Filipinos die daily from smoking-related diseases," she said.
The World No Tobacco Day aims to raise awareness on the harm to people's health caused by the illicit trade in tobacco products, especially the youth and low-income groups, she said.
It also designated to ensure that health care gains like increased tax and prices, pictorial health warnings and other measures are not undermined by the tobacco companies, and counter the tobacco industry's involvement in the illicit trade of tobacco products.
She said that graphic health warning on tobacco products will help combat the illicit tobacco trade.
Garin noted that illicit tobacco products hook young people into tobacco experimentation and use because they are more affordable. Also, the tobacco retailers sometimes involved children in their illegal selling activities.
According to the World Health Organization, the global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke.