Smoking Burden in the Philippines

Felix Eduardo R. Punzalan,1 Paul Ferdinand M. Reganit,1,2 Eugene B. Reyes1
and The National Nutrition and Health Examination Survey (NNHES) Group

1Section of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, College of Medicine and
Philippine General Hospital, University of the Philippines Manila
2Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, College of Public Health,
University of the Philippines Manila


Background. The 2nd National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHeS II) was conducted in 2008 to measure the prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases and risk factors among adult Filipinos 20 years or older. One of the risk factors measured was smoking.

Methods. The survey used a stratified multi-stage sampling design and covered the 17 regions of the country. The clinical component included Filipino adults 20 years or older. Data was collected using health questionaires; anthropometric measurements were made, and blood examinations performed on all participants. The prevalence of smoking was determined.

Results. A total of 7,700 subjects were included in the survey. The over-all prevalence of current smokers was 31% (53.2% and 12.5% for men and women, respectively). 14% were former smokers (20.9% of men and 9.5% of women) while 25.9% of men and 78.1% of women were never smokers.

Among current male smokers, the highest prevalence (57.7%) belonged to the 20-29 age group. While among current female smokers, the highest prevalence (23.2%) belonged to the greater than 70-year-old category.

There were more current smokers in the rural areas (33.1%) than the urban areas (28.9%) and there were more current and former smokers among respondents whose educational attainment was at least tertiary level (62.7%).

Conclusion. Tobacco use in the Philippines is still prevalent at 31% and is predominantly composed of males in the 20-29 age group. Current smoking is highest among rural dwellers and among individuals with elementary education, while majority of women and college level respondents are never smokers.

Key Words: tobacco use, tobacco burden, smoking, Philippinies, tobacco prevalence