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Corrupting the Filipino Youth?

Corrupting the Filipino Youth?


[smartads] I know that living in the Philippines is different than living in Texas.  There are certain things that I have chosen to give up or limit in exchange for exiting the rat race.  However; there is something that goes on here that I am having a hard time coming to terms with.  In the US it is illegal for children to buy cigarettes (or alcohol), but that doesn’t seem to be the case here in the Philippines.

To the best of my knowledge and the knowledge of the people I have asked, there is no law here that restricts children from buying these items.  Of the many times I have gone to a sari-sari store, I’ll bet I have seen a kid buying cigarettes (or liquor), supposedly for their parents, about 20% of the time.  We now have a sari-sari store and the same thing happens at our store.  I know that it is an accepted thing here and I have tried to conform to it, but today I experienced something that made me stop to re-think the whole thing.

A young fellow that, to me, looked like he was about 12 years old, stopped by to get a cigarette and before he left, he lit it up right there in front of me.  He didn’t start coughing either so that probably means that it’s not his first time.  Of course I could be wrong and he only ‘looked’ like he was 12.  He could have been 16, 17 or even 18.  It’s hard to tell on a lot of Filipinos, especially the young ladies.

Filipino Children Smoking


The thing is though, most Filipinos that I know, do not carry any form of a picture identification.  Now I guess I could always just refuse to sell to them unless they have an ID.  That however would create ill will within the neighborhood and will most likely hurt our sari-sari store business, especially, like I said, most of them don’t have a picture ID anyway.  I’m sure that if I refuse them, my wife will be upset because the other sari-sari stores in the area will be getting the business that use to be ours.  I can hear her now saying that that’s just the way it is here, no one really cares and it’s only a few of them that do it.  Well I am concerned about it, but I don’t know if my not selling to them would make a difference or not in what they do.  My conscience would be cleared, but so would my bank account.

Whenever I see even one child smoking a cigarette, I usually get a vision in my head like the feature picture above.  Maybe they think they are being cool or maybe they just don’t know any better.  Either way, they have probably not gotten the proper education about the dangers of cigarette smoking.  I guess that with the track record of education in the Philippines, that shouldn’t really surprise me.

You would think that the parents would appreciate refusing to sell to the children, but I don’t see that happening.  The children are usually the ones that are sent out to buy things by/for the parents.  If I won’t sell to the kids then the parents would have to go out and get their own and I’ll bet they wouldn’t come to our store to get them either.  Worse though, the kids would take ALL their business to another store.  I doubt they would come to our store to buy anything anymore.

It would be a lot easier on me if the Philippine government would just pass a law against selling to minors.  I don’t think that the Philippines should copy everything that the US has done, but in this case, I think it is a good thing to adopt.  That way I can just tell them, “I can’t, it’s against the law”.  That would take time to do though (especially here in the Philippines).  In the mean time I would have pissed off a lot of customers and driven them away from our store, my wife would be on my case and my bank account would be emptying faster every month.

This is a dilemma that I’m going to have to work out with myself and try to make a decision and I will have to do it soon.

What do you ‘think’ or what do you ‘know’ you would do?

(Where I found the feature picture)


  1. There are laws in Philippines about selling smokes and liquor to underage kids. But its like other laws, the cops pick and choose which ones to enforce. If they think they can make extra income they will enforce it. Being a foreigner I would think twice about doing what locals do. Your damned if you do and damned if you don’t, doing business in the Philippines.

    • What I also meant to say is that even though locals are doing it, it still might be illegal. So if you think it should be against the law then I would go with that and play it safe, or you might be watching yourself on Locked up Abroad.

      • So now I have 2 other opinions on it and both those opinions clash. I don’t want to end up on Locked Up Abroad though. It probably wouldn’t be that much of a big deal. Nothing I couldn’t settle at the police station, but you never can tell. George do you know where that law is listed. I could look it up, print it and maybe post it on the front of the store. Of course I’ll have to find someplace to print it first, since I still don’t have a printer. I can do it at Mar’s house.

        • I was reading about it in the on line newspaper. The Mayor of New York gave Manila $25 million to enforce smoking ban in Manila. Must be a born again non smoker.

          • That’s unusual. I wonder if they applied all the money to the program? I’m sorry but until things get under control around here, I’m going to think that just about ever Filipino politician is on the take.

  2. John you are right you are not going to change a thing.The locals I have been around send their kids to buy beer,smokes and other things and I have not seen one of them smoke. Even if there was a law against it they might not enforce it as they don’t enforce most of the other laws, a lack of police or what ever. In the bigger cities I have seen homeless kids begging and I have bought food or given money to them and asked why they smoke. Almost everyone said they are hungry and it helps, I guess it curbs their hunger when they get a buzz. With the life they have to look forward to,they will face worse things than smoking. I don’t blame them, they do what they have to to get by. Most kids in the US are spoiled,more should go to a third world country and get a real lesson on how the rest of the world lives.

    • You’re right about American kids being spoiled, but not all of them. I do think it would be a wake up call if more of them got an opportunity to go to a third world country to see how things are, in person. I wonder if there is a foundation that handles things like that? Probably not. Maybe if I win the lottery, I could start one. It’d be a worth while cause and people that otherwise wouldn’t get to travel, would have an opportunity. It’s something to think about all you lottery winners out there.

Texan in the Philippines