DOH Starts New Engagement to Address Smoking in the BPO Industry

BPO employees’ appeal for help becomes heard.

no to smoking

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) employees face various challenges at work such as dealing with the constant pressure to meet certain metrics and quotas, along with lifestyle habits that often cause health issues along the way. These health problems usually arise due to the constantly changing work schedules especially the graveyard/night shift, the habit of dining on fast food restaurants almost daily, and finally, the widespread smoking addiction.

Smoking in the BPO Industry

Putting much-needed attention on the last cause, the Department of Health (DOH) was recently reported to take action against the issue. This especially comes after some BPO employees voluntarily asked the organization’s help in ceasing the chronic problem. To start the process, DOH will conduct a study on the smoking habits of BPO employees to identify the proper intervention measures required to implement a solution.

BPO employers have also made efforts to address the common smoking problem and unhealthy lifestyle of their workers. Some BPO providers have in-house clinics that offer health-related programs such as counseling, risk assessment and smoking cessation. The availability of these programs was even pointed as a contributor for the decline in the employee turnover rate of the BPO industry last 2014. But despite all this, 2 out of 3 BPO workers carry on living an unhealthy lifestyle with heavy drinking and smoking sitting atop of unhealthy habits performed. True enough, attention 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.  Notwithstanding the decrease, smoking remains prevalent and continues to pose threats against the health of all Filipinos. Studies reveal that 10 Filipinos die every hour due to smoking-related diseases, totaling 240 deaths on a daily basis. 

To address the issue, one of the highly-regarded efforts on this is the Executive Order No. 26 or better known as the nationwide smoking ban that took effect on July 23, 2017. Besides its attempt to create a smoke-free environment in public and private places, the order also tries to better define “public places” where smoking is banned. It also further detailed the types of tobacco products prohibited under Republic Act 9211 or The Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, the Philippines’ tobacco control policy for the last 10 years.

The latest executive order is a significant move to set the pace in finally ceasing the chronic smoking problem common to Filipinos and prevalent among BPO employees. Still, constant efforts are necessary to cure the prevailing problem. Hopefully, the DOH, in their research will gain meaningful insights to conceptualize effective solutions to help Filipinos, especially BPO employees, to live a much healthier lifestyle.

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