Quitting smokers asked to access hotline properly

By , on August 25, 2017


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“We just need the help of the media in relaying to the public that there is a hotline for those who want to quit smoking,” Cabrera said, expressing hope that the public would take note of these errors. (ShutterStock)

MANILA – To ensure the success of the Department of Health’s (DOH) National Quitline, a lung specialist called on smokers who want to kick the habit to access the hotline properly to prevent glitches.

Member of the Council on COPD and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, Dr. Glynna Ong-Cabrera, said the hotline has received more than 1,500 text messages but nearly half of them – or 700 — cannot be classified as successful due to glitches in sending the text messages.

Minsan po tayong mga Pinoy nagso-shortcut in texting. (We Filipinos sometimes use shortcuts in texting.) So instead of texting STOPSMOKE, the sender texts STP SMK,” Cabrera said during a recent forum held in Quezon City to commemorate National Lung Month.

Others, she said, reverse the STOPSMOKE and turn it into SMOKESTOP, while others respond with an OK, both of which are mistakes that should be corrected because the computer sees them as an error.

“We just need the help of the media in relaying to the public that there is a hotline for those who want to quit smoking,” Cabrera said, expressing hope that the public would take note of these errors.

Dr. Imelda Mateo, who chairs the Philippine College of Chest Physicians’ (PCCP) Council on Tobacco or Health and Air Pollution, said 10 percent of those who had sent text messages were actually able to access the steps in quitting the habit.

“There are 150 callers who are being monitored by our personnel. It’s like a BPO call center wherein the callers are led to the steps to take,” Mateo said, adding that citizens can do their share by referring the Quitline to those who want to stop smoking.

The National Quitline can be accessed by calling 165-364 for smoking cessation counseling or by texting STOPSMOKE to ‎(29290) 165364.

The hotline was launched last June 19 by the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City following the implementation of an Executive Order on the establishment of smoke-free areas in public and enclosed places in the country.