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The BPO employees’ appeal for help is heard – DOH addresses smoking in BPO industry.

no to smoking

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) employees face steady challenges at work that can be chronically stressful. They deal with the pressure to meet certain metrics and daily quotas, along with managing an unnatural night-shift biological time-frame. The habits they develop to adapt to these stressors can lead to long-term health issues. The main culprits can be pointed to constantly changing work schedules, the tendency to rely on 24/7 fast food chains and instant noodles, and finally, the widespread smoking caffeine addiction. Here is the reality about smoking in BPO industry.

Smoking in BPO Industry

Putting more weight on the last cause, the Department of Health (DOH) was recently reported to take preventive steps against the matter. This came after some BPO employees voluntarily requested for the government’s aid in addressing the widespread industry phenomenon. To start the process, the DOH will conduct a study on the smoking habits of BPO employees. This is in order to identify the proper intervention measures required for implementing a solution.

BPO employers have already made efforts to address the common smoking problem and unhealthy lifestyle of their workers. Some BPO providers have in-house clinics to offer health-related programs such as counseling, risk assessment and smoking cessation. The availability of these programs was attributed as a contributor for the decline in the employee turnover rate of the BPO industry back in 2014. Despite this however, two out of three BPO workers still carry on leading unhealthy lifestyles. They combine heavy drinking and smoking on top of the unhealthy habits already mentioned. This statistic only shows that prompt intervention from the DOH is imperative. 

Smoking on a Larger Scale

According to the 2015 World Health Organization (WHO) Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), 23.8% of Filipino adults use tobacco. This is lower compared to the prior GATS survey in 2009, which recorded 29.7% percent. Policy changes like the Sin Tax Reform Law and Graphic Health Warnings Law were credited for the reduction.  However, despite the decrease, smoking still remains prevalent and continues to pose a threat to the health of the Filipino population. Studies reveal that 10 Filipinos die each hour due to smoking-related diseases. This totals to 240 deaths daily. 

To address the issue, one of the highly-regarded efforts by the government is the Executive Order No. 26. It is better known as the nationwide smoking ban that took effect on July 23, 2017. Besides the attempt to create a smoke-free environment in public and private places, the order also defined which “public places” are to ban smoking. It also detailed the types of tobacco products that are prohibited. This is under Republic Act 9211 or The Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, which has been the Philippines’ tobacco control policy over the last decade.

The latest executive order is set to cease the chronic smoking problem common to almost a quarter of Filipinos. This is mostly prevalent among employees in the BPO sector who work on irregular shifts. Constant efforts are necessary to abate the problem. Hopefully the DOH, in their research, will draw out meaningful insights to design effective solutions to help Filipinos, especially the BPO employees, live a much healthier lifestyle.