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Dumaguete City, Philippines Friday, October 21, 2016
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Smoking high among
sexual minority men

Filipino gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men generally have disproportionately higher rates of cigaret smoking than heterosexuals and face higher health risks associated with it, a study published in the latest issue of the Silliman Journal of Silliman University in Dumaguete City showed.

The World Health Organization said cigaret smoking is one of the leading preventable causes of morbidity and mortality. It said 17 million adult Filipinos are smokers, and 10 Filipinos die every day from cigaret smoking.

Using the nationally representative sample from a survey on health and sexuality made by the National Statistics Office, the authors of the article found that smoking was disproportionately higher among sexual minority men at 67 percent than heterosexual men with 54 percent.

The survey was administered to 5,009 Filipino men age 15 to 54 years old, with a response rate of 95 percent.

The authors of the paper are Eric Julian Manalastas of the University of the Philippines Diliman and George Washington University, and Nicolo Cabrera of the John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital in Chicago, U.S.A.

They said their findings were consistent with the observation of the WHO that “tobacco use in its most common form of cigaret smoking is the gender-linked behavior with the greatest public health significance.”

WHO said that in Southeast Asia, men's rates for smoking are triple or even quadruple the rates of women.

“In the Philippines, where the tobacco-farming industry plays a considerable cultural and economic role, cigaret smoking is much higher among men than women,” the authors wrote.

The 2009 Philippines Global Adult Tobacco Survey of Filipinos age 15 years and older, administered by the Department of Health and the NSO, found that men (48 percent) smoke more than women (9 percent). More Filipino men smoked daily (38 percent) than women (7 percent). Men were earlier initiated into cigaret smoking (17 years old) than women (19 year old). And men reported higher average smoking volume (11 sticks per day) than women (7 sticks per day).

The study by Manalastas and Cabrera looked at the differences between heterosexual males and gay, bisexual and other men who had sex with men (sexual-minority men). Sexual-minority men reported smoking more (66.7 percent) than heterosexual men (53.9 percent).

In terms of early initiation into smoking, sexual-minority men smoked one year earlier (16 years) than heterosexual men (17 years). Both sexual minority and heterosexual males smoked an average of 10 to 11 sticks a day.

The authors said their findings about male smokers were consistent with those in the US, Canada, Sweden, Mexico, and China - based on studies made in the last 20 years.

Manalastas and Cabrera recommended that medical practitioners working with sexual minority male patients include “routine screening for cigaret smoking and its associated cardiovascular, respiratory, and other consequent diseases,” because sexual-minority men may not think that cigaret smoking is significant compared to HIV infection and sexual health.*CELIA ACEDO


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