MANILA, Philippines --- An official of the Catholic Church has called for a ban on the practice of selling cigarettes, especially by piece, around schools.
Father Conegundo Garganta, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Youth (CBCP-ECY), said that the ban on selling cigarettes, particularly by piece, should have been implemented a long time ago.
''This should have been done long ago. This should have been included in banning around schools practices and vices that expose the youth to vulnerability,'' Garganta said.
With a cigarette stick selling around P2.50 each, any student can very well afford to buy it, he said.
Emer Rojas, from the group of cancer survivors known as ''New Vois Association Philippines'' (NVAP), also supported Garganta's proposal and convinced that this is one way to discourage the youth to smoke.
''I'm sure a lot of vendors will complain if a ban is imposed, but that is a very good idea. In the US, cigarettes are being sold per pack not per piece. If you cannot afford to buy a pack of cigarette, then don't smoke,'' he said.
Rojas, who started smoking at the age of 17, said that his experience should serve as a lesson to the young people. ''I was 44 years old when I was diagnosed with cancer. I'm lucky despite the Stage 4 cancer of the larynx, I survived. That's why I'm doing this (advocacy)...They say one-third of all cancers can be prevented just by merely stopping smoking.''