The 2007 Philippines Regional Survey on Smoking in Girls and Young Women provides updated data on women and young girls smoking experience and behavior, awareness to smoking ban and advertisements, attitude and beliefs on smoking, smoking prevalence and smoking behavior of the respondent's family.
A Cross-sectional survey was done among upper and secondary school girls and female college/university students for the phase I and qualitative study using FGD was done for the phase 2. The combined quantitative and qualitative method was used to investigate the objectives of the study to possibly provide recommendations stricter policy measures towards tobacco control for youth.
The survey was conducted in Manila and Zamboanga representing the urban and rural capital cities with a response rate of 100%. A total of three thousand respondents from the urban and rural capital cities were sampled from fifteen secondary schools and fourteen tertiary institutions. The responses on the questionnaires were done by marking the boxes on the choices provided or by filling out the actual data requested. The survey lasted for six weeks.
The selection of schools was randomly done from the list of schools in Manila for the urban capital and Zamboanga City for the rural capital area. The target respondents were drawn from three age clusters, namely thirteen to fifteen years old; sixteen to nineteen years old; and twenty to twenty five years old respectively. For the participating secondary schools, permission was sought from the Dept of Education (DEpEd) and from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for tertiary institutions included in the survey.
The qualitative study followed using Focus Group Discussions with a total of two hundred twenty eight girls and young women for the twenty eight FGD's with six to eight girls per group. The narrative data from the qualitative result generally discusses the substantial comparison among the three age groups at two comparative locations.
From the results of the quantitative and qualitative analysis, the survey revealed a higher prevalence of 37.8% who had ever smoked cigarette of which 18.7% of the girls are currently smokers. The high percentage 60.3% of the girls first tried cigarette at the age 18 years old and older.
From the qualitative results, mixed forms of tobacco promotions flourished in the country with weak control on penalty measures were claimed by girls. Despite high knowledge and awareness on anti-smoking messages the tobacco smoking in the country are still observed prevalent, cigarette access is widely available and accessible with no clear agreement on how to counter advertisement on tobacco advertising flourishing in the country targeting young girls and women. Although there are promising strategies, laws and policies have to be learned from the early implementers of the programs and campaigns.
From the findings, it can be said that effectiveness of smoking prevention among girls should be focused on smoking cessation that have strong community-school based partnership to reduce smoking prevalence among youths regardless of gender. More empirical evidences are needed on penalties, and sanctions that cover smoking policies and laws, media campaigns on the adverse effects of second hand smoking on children in schools. There is also a greater need of health programs on smoking intervention, training for teachers and guidance counselors initiated at the first four years of high school. They should include the establishment of monitoring and evaluation and smoking surveillance in school campuses.
The findings of this survey is limited only to the sample surveyed of girls and young women who attend schools and universities, thus not representative of other unschooled girls of the same age in the Philippines. Also, the data generated were taken from the self-administered questionnaires. The students may not have revealed their true smoking behavior because the survey was done with the full cooperation of school administrators and teachers. Hence, to increase the cooperation and the quality of responses, the participants were ensured anonymity and confidentiality. The extent of validity of the girls' responses could have been more in-depth if the FGDs were done separately for smokers and non-smokers. A more thorough explanation would have been drawn if there were two distinct types of group discussions for smoking and non-smoking females.
1. To determine the vulnerability and extent of smoking of the respondents.
2. To examine the girls' and young women's awareness and perception of ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship and health warnings on cigarette.
3. To determine exposure to tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship among the respondents.
4. To examine respondents' support for tobacco control policies.
5. To examine respondents' perception of tobacco industry's youth smoking prevention programme and corporate social responsibility activities.