By Sara Susanne D. Fabunan - As Malacańang assured Filipinos of President Aquino’s state of health, two more members of the House of Representatives on Saturday expressed concern over his medical condition, with one of the lawmakers saying that the country needs a “healthy captain.”

Palace spokesmen on Saturday said Mr. Aquino’s smoking habit is one way for him to “de-stress” from his daily job as the country’s chief executive.

Thus, the President may not heed the unsolicited advice of Dr. Leo Olarte of the Philippine Medical Association to quit smoking, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on radio.

Mr. Aquino’s frequent sneezing and coughing was due to allergic rhinitis he got during a recent trip to Australia, Lacierda added.

“He suffered from a pollen allergy because there was a high pollen count in Australia,” Lacierda said.

Several lawmakers however insisted on having the President undergo a medical check-up. Congressmen Erico Aumentado of Bohol and Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao at the same time endorsed the suggestion of their colleague in the House—Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano—that the President should see a doctor due to his recurring colds, cough and flu.

“I think the President knows what is best for his health,” Aumentado, an oppositionist, told the Manila Standard.

“Albano’s advice might be unsolicited but at least it is a god reminder for we need a healthy captain of our ship of state to steer the country in the perilous sea of uncertainties, such as in the disputed West Philippine Sea and the unfinished peace accord with the MILF (Moro Ismalic Liberation Front) among others, needing political will and tough decisions,” said Aumentado, chair of the House committee on ethics.

[PHOTO -Noynoy, smoking. Aquino brushed aside calls from health groups]

Earlier, Albano, an oppositionist, said Mr. Aquino should see a doctor because “the health condition of the President is a cause for concern in light of his repeated bouts of colds, flu and cough recently.”

In the past weeks, Mr. Aquino has had a bum stomach, coughs, and colds and flu that caused him to miss state functions.

“Good health is vital for the President to perform well and effectively lead our nation,” Albano said.

Presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte turned down suggestions by Albano that President Aquino should undergo an executive medical check-up to determine his state of health.

“We will let the President determine that [the need for executive check-up]. But, again, it is nothing serious,” Valte said.

Besides, she said, President Aquino was examined by his personal physician before he left for Cambodia last week where he attended the Asean Summit,” she said.

Baguilat said that while he acknowledged the fact that it is still the President who could say whether he is well enough to carry his duties or not, a thorough medical check-up might be imperative.

“I see this as goodwill gesture of Congressman Albano to suggest that P’noy (Aquino) takes care of his health and avoid illness that will affect his work. But a physical checkup would help him decide whether he needs to rest a bit or continue with his usual work load,” Baguilat, an administration ally, pointed out.

Mr. Aquino, a smoker, could not suppress his coughing during public appearances, including live television interviews. In the past several days, he spoke in a hoarse voice and sounded like he was trying to scare reporters.

During the debate in the Senate in the past few days over taxes on cigarettes, the subject about the President’s smoking habits as a cause of his cough, came up.

The matter irked Lacierda, who denied Aquino’s coughing was due to smoking.

Mr. Aquino was looking forward to get rest during the weekend because “he has not had the two day rest recommended by his physicians,” he said. With Maricel V. Cruz


President Benigno C. Aquino III is still smoking by nick071438

Facts about Nicotine in tobacco

WHO: 10 Filipinos die every hour brought on by cigarette smoking

1. Filipinos die everyday due to smoking. CDC: Worldwide, tobacco use causes more than 5 million deaths per year...

Per report of, dated February 1, 2012, President Benigno Aquino III is still puffing cigarettes. The news was headlined “PNoy still can’t kick smoking habit”.

Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte admitted the fact that the president is still in with the smoking habit but added he does so only in designated smoking areas, contrary to what some people think that he brushes smoking rules aside being president.

In October last year, the palace said no to a newspaper report that Pres. Aquino was allowed to puff cigarettes during his return trip from San Francisco to Manila. Malacanang denied this allegation knowing for a fact that the president was fully aware that smoking would violate international and domestic aviation rules.

The president has indicated earlier his stand on the issue, saying he’s not yet ready to forget the habit lest his decision-making skills would be affected.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer, online-dated September 19, 2011 carries the alarming report that the World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that tobacco consumption kills 10 Filipinos every hour, due to cancer, stroke, lung and heart diseases brought on by cigarette smoking.

Original title: Should Noynoy continue smoking?

PRESIDENT apparent Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Cojuangco Aquino III, born February 8, 1960, Liberal Party, senator of the 14th Philippine Congress, smokes cigarettes. He said he could consume a pack or 20 sticks a day. When there is pressure, he could consume more.

In fact- during the SNAP Elections of 1985- he said he smoked 3 packs because of tension. His brand is Marlboro Lights Menthol. He averred that he ran and won the last concluded polls with the people knowing fully well that he was a smoker.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reminded Senator Aquino about the possible side effects of smoking cigarettes. Regional Adviser for Tobacco-Free Initiative Project of WHO, Western Pacific Region, Dr. Susan Mercado said in a statement that smoking is the most important preventable risk factor for the leading cause of death in the Philippines today- cardiovascular disease. The doctor added that cigarette smoke is the cause of immeasurable sufferings among families that are afflicted by cancers and other tobacco-related diseases.

The WHO made it clear to the senator that both his parents were victims of illnesses that were related to cigarette-smoke exposure. His father- Ninoy- suffered a heart attack, while his mother- Cory- had colorectal cancer. Both diseases are link to cigarette exposure.

Noynoy refused to act as anti-smoking poster boy when offered. Relative to this, Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral said that the government's campaign to curb smoking would be severely affected. We would not have a very good supporter of anti-smoking activites, Cabral told reporters Tuesday, May 25 at the Angeles University Foundation.

The 82-year-old, cigar chomping, former President of the Philippines Fidel Valdez Ramos through an interview with reporters- advised Noynoy to quit smoking; that smoking is bad for his health. FVR offered a sort of solution by saying he was able to kick the nicotine habit away through "self-discipline and sheer determination." Other personalities who sounded the same call were Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, Senator Pia Cayetano and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines.

Noynoy and US President Barack Obama shared things in common. They both shared "sudden and phenomenal rise in popularity." And because of public concern regarding their health- they both were told or advised to quit smoking cigarettes.

On this issue- the smoking senator from Tarlac has these response:

"At the appropriate time, I will stop. So long as I am within the law and I don't inconvenience other people, I think this is part of the little freedom left for me."

He was not ready to quit because of the pressure of the job he is about to undertake and quitting smoking would add unnecessary pressure on him and affect his performance.

That he is aware of the health risks of smoking- but "there is the so-called bad stress that I might experience."

Soon to address a lot of responsibilities as President of the Philippines- Noynoy reasoned out, "he needs all the de-stress mechanisms ... and this includes smoking."

The 2005-2006 Tobacco and Poverty Study conducted by the College on Public Health of the University of the Philippines, National Epidemiology Center of the Department of Health and the WHO has unearth a grim reminder for all of us Filipinos: at least 240 Filipinos die each day- 87,600 a year- from smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer, cardiac arrest, stroke and other chronic lung failures.

"We are losing the war against smoking," said Maricar Limpin, executive director of the Framework Convention of the Tobacco Control Alliance of the Philippines (FCAP). Despite the passage of the 2003 Tobacco Control Act more Filipino youths are now smoking, she added.

As incoming president and looked up to as model of 88.75 million (2007) and projected to be 94.01 (2010) million Filipinos- can Noynoy- smoking 20 Malrboro Lights Menthol sticks a day- lessen the 240 reported death of Filipinos daily from tobacco-related diseases? Are his reasons valid for not quitting the urge to sniff nicotine?

Obviously- it is the constitutional right of every Filipino to express concern on the health of their head of state. Well-meaning organizations and personalities like the WHO, ex-president Fidel V. Ramos, Senator Pia Cayetano, Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan, etc. did so give advice to Noynoy out of their concern to protect and safequard his health; they did so not to encroach and jeopardize his private freedom.

For the welfare of their respective constituents, should Noynoy continue lighting and smoking 20 Marlboro Lights Menthol day in day out to lighten pressures, or should US President Barack Obama go on puffing 6 Marlboro Reds per day for the same reason?

(RMN Networks,, philstar, malaya)

Related Hub: Best proven ways to quit smoking


Noynoy Aquino: In defense of smoking By Carlos H. Conde Jun 02, 2010 9:39AM UTC

The Philippines has always had presidents who smoke. Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada are two of them. Senator Benigno Aquino III, who is on his way to become the country’s next president, is a smoker as well. I cannot recall, however, any instance during their time when Ramos and Estrada were criticized for their habit. On the other hand, Aquino, who is not even president yet, is now the subject of intense criticism because of his smoking. What gives?

I think it may have something to do with Ramos’s and Estrada’s attitude toward smoking and, more importantly, an acknowledgment of the fact that smoking is never good and that, as leaders, what they do will always have an impact on the public.

Ramos is often seen chomping on a cigar. Joseph Estrada has been seen with a cigarette in his hand. Ramos’s cigar, however, is never lit and he doesn’t usually flaunt it. Estrada would never have his pictures taken with a cigarette in hand. I remember interviewing him months ago and as the photographer was clicking away, Estrada stopped him and told him to do it later because he was holding a cigarette.

By contrast, Aquino couldn’t care less, it would seem. He whips out a stick whenever and wherever it suits him. In a country where 17 million of its 90 million population smoke, this should be a non-issue. “Give him a break” is a common retort by his friends and supporters.

If only it were that simple.

Why Aquino’s smoking has become such a hot-button issue in the Philippines is largely because of his statements that not only justified his smoking and refusal to kick the habit, but even insulted those who have called on him to quit.

He told reporters last month that he needed cigarettes so he can handle the pressures of his job. Smoking, he said, is one of the remaining freedoms he enjoys. How dare Filipinos deprive him of it? he seems to be saying.

Then on Monday, Aquino stepped up his counter-attack against tobacco-control advocates. “I have made a lot of sacrifices. Maybe those who are asking me to sacrifice have not sacrificed anything. Maybe they want to join me,” he told reporters who had asked him again about the issue, especially after he replied “no” to a question on whether he would observe World No-Tobacco Day last Monday by not lighting a stick that day. The mocking tone of his statement is unmistakable.

And then he added, with a logic that is mindboggling: “If I can be pushed around on a petty subject, I can be pushed around on bigger ones. And if I mind (those who want me to quit), I won’t be decisive and I will lose face with my supporters.”

His supporters and friends have also joined in this counter-attack, criticizing those who want Aquino to quit by saying there are more important issues to talk about other than one man’s smoking habit.

But he is not just one man – he is the future president of the Philippines, a man admired by Filipinos, particularly the youth who volunteered by the thousands during his campaign for the presidency. Each time he sticks that cigarette in his mouth, he’s sending the message that it is okay to smoke – that it is okay to kill yourself and those around you.

Every hour, according to the World Health Organization, 10 Filipinos die from illnesses that are directly traced to smoking. Smoking is the single most preventable factor, the WHO said, that contributes to the worsening of cardiovascular diseases, the top killer of Filipinos.

What’s more, the number of young Filipino smokers is growing. According to WHO data cited by Newsbreak magazine, 15.9 percent of Filipinos aged 13 to 15 were smoking in 2008. The next year, this number jumped to 22.7 percent.

In Southeast Asia, excluding Timor Leste, the Philippines ranks the highest in nearly all smoking indicators in the Global Youth Tobacco Survey done by the World Health Organization and the US-based Centers for Disease Control, as shown below:

THAILAND (2009) 25.8% of students had ever smoked cigarettes (Boy = 40.3%, Girl = 12.1%) 17.9% currently use any tobacco product (Boy = 26.9%, Girl = 9.2%) 11.7% currently smoke cigarettes (Boy = 20.1%, Girl = 3.8%) 10.8% currently use other tobacco products (Boy = 15.3%, Girl = 6.5%) 8.6% of never smokers are likely to initiate smoking next year

INDONESIA (2009) 30.4% of students had ever smoked cigarettes (Boy = 57.8%, Girl = 6.4%) 22.5% currently use any tobacco product (Boy = 41.0%, Girl = 6.2%) 20.3% currently smoke cigarettes (Boy = 41.0%, Girl = 3.5%) 6.5% currently use other tobacco products (Boy = 10.3%, Girl = 3.1%) 11.5% of never smokers are likely to initiate smoking next year

PHILIPPINES (2007) 46.2% of students had ever smoked cigarettes (Boy =58.2%, Girl = 34.7%) 27.3% currently use any tobacco product (Boy = 34.3%, Girl = 19.6%) 21.7% currently smoke cigarettes (Boy = 29.3%, Girl = 13.8%) 9.7% currently use other tobacco products (Boy = 10.6%, Girl = 8.3%) 13.6% of never smokers are likely to initiate smoking next year

How is smoking a non-issue that Aquino and his supporters should ignore is beyond me. If Aquino cannot see smoking as a worrisome public-health issue that not only kills 240 Filipinos every day but also sapped more than 445 billion pesos in 2008 due to health and economic costs (as opposed to the 27 billion in tobacco taxes collected that same year), then woe to us all.

To be sure, it’s probably not fair to throw all this at him at this point. But I wish he’d be more circumspect in his statements defending his habit and I wish he realizes that he’s no longer just the same old Noynoy, that he soon will become the president that every Filipino will look up to not just for leadership but, more importantly, guidance.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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