By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte won’t stop government troops from smoking but he has reminded them about the harmful effects of the tobacco habit.
In his fourth visit to the Marawi battle zone, the President acknowledged that soldiers had turned to tobacco use to relieve stress but cautioned that smoking increases the risk to cancer and lung ailments.
Duterte made the remarks even as he brought packs of cigarettes for distribution to troops fighting terrorists in Marawi.
‘Meron akong dalang ano ha, may dala akong sigarilyo kasi alam ko rin naninigarilyo kayo [I brought cigarettes because I know you smoke]. I will not stop you from smoking pero may iwanan akong salita sa inyo [but I will leave you with a few words] just think about it,” the commander-in-chief told the troops gathered at the Marawi command post.
“Pagka naninigarilyo ka, automatic ang cancer. `Yan talaga ang makuha mong sakit [When you smoke, cancer is automatic. You will really get that illness] and it weakens the lungs, so pagkasundalo ka and then diyan ka sa — mobile ka, eh mas lalo kang humina, lalo na ‘pag matanda ka na [when you’re a soldier and mobile, you get weaker especially as you get old],” he added.
The President said in jest that soldiers could quit smoking when they are already sick.
“I will not stop you now kasi under stress kayo [because you are under stress] so maybe you can stop it siguro kung mga fourth stage na. Balewala na rin [when you’re on fourth stage. It won’t matter anyway],” he said, drawing laughter from the soldiers.
Duterte was a heavy smoker but quit after being diagnosed with Buerger’s disease, which causes blockages in the blood vessels.
He told the soldiers to watch out for symptoms of Buerger’s disease, including having pain in hands or feet. “Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor,” he said, referring nicotine’s impact on the narrowing of the blood vessels.
Duterte explained that public health was the main consideration behind the government’s smoking ban imposed on the country.
“Kaya ko binawalan ang sigarilyo ang lahat, it’s for a reason, to protect the health of the Filipino,” he said.
He was referring to an executive order that banned smoking in public across the country. The smoking ban carries a maximum penalty of four months in jail and fine of P5,000.