Pollution from Motor Vehicles Just as Bad as Smoking Tobacco

Breathing polluted air is just as devastating on the body as smoking

Two physicians, Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo and Dr. Custer Deocaris, speaking at the recent Clean Air Forum organized by the Partnership for Clean Air, said that outside air pollution, which in Metro Manila is caused for the most part by motor vehicles, presents the same dangers to personal health as smoking tobacco does (read what's in a cigarette here.) (These effects are graphically shown in the poster above.) They urged clean air advocates to learn from successful anti-smoking campaigns that have significantly lowered the incidence of smoking in the Southeast Asian Region, including the Philippines. They credited this success to the campaign’s focus on the devastating effects that tobacco use has on personal health, a fact the even the powerful lobby of tobacco multinational corporations, such as Philip Morris and British American Tobacco, cannot dispute. Air pollution from vehicle emissions, they believed, involve the same chemicals and toxins in tobacco smoke and are therefore similarly harmful, leading to debilitating pulmonary diseases such as emphysema (COPD), weakening the heart, and producing various cancers, particularly those that attack the lungs.

Mon Fernan recommends, "One possible application of these ideas to the clean air campaign is to impose a pollution tax on motor vehicle use... using a car means producing emissions that causes illnesses that cost society millions of pesos annually for medical care and even deaths."

 

In addition to effectively educating people on the dangers of smoking, tobacco control advocates have also persuaded governments to ban smoking in many public areas. Another recent success is the imposition of higher taxes on tobacco and alcohol (the sin tax), which have raised the prices of these goods, furthering discouraging consumption of these harmful products. What’s more, the revenues from the sin tax have been used to fund efforts to promote health, making the campaign a self-sustaining one.

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One possible application of these ideas to the clean air campaign is to impose a pollution tax on motor vehicle use. The logic is quite simple: using a car means producing emissions that causes illnesses that cost society millions of pesos annually for medical care and even deaths. Imposing a pollution tax ensures that those who cause the problem pay for it. Of course the actual mechanism for implementing such a tax will be more complicated but the idea is straightforward. And just as with tobacco control, powerful interest groups will lobby against such a measure. The anti-smoking activists are effective, even against such strong opposition, because their public awareness campaign is convincing and they are not afraid to stand up to powerful interests. One hopes that clean air advocates will be just as fearless and resourceful.

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You can read more articles on cycling issues by Mon on his personal blog at Padyakero.

 

 

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