December 7, 2010 - The City Health Services Office (HSO), in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH-CAR) launched the advocacy on the Environmentally Sustainable Healthy Urban Transport (ESHUT) and the 100% Smoke-free Baguio City during the flag raising ceremony at the City Hall Grounds last Monday, December 5th.
City Health officer Dr. Florence Reyes stressed that the advocacy is in line with Republic Act 9211 or the Clean Air Act and the Comprehensive Anti-smoking ordinance of Baguio. 'If Davao and Roxas can make their city smoking-free, then we can also do it here in Baguio,' Reyes said.
The ordinance bans smoking in all public places, including pedestrian overpasses and public utility vehicles, but some councilors said that the law has not been enforced to the letter. In fact, many city employees sneaked out of City Hall for cigarette breaks when the program was being reintroduced.
City HSO chief epidemiologist Dr. Donna Tubera affirmed that six of the top 10 leading causes of death in the city are smoking related including lung cancer, colon cancer, cardiovascular diseases, heart diseases, pneumonia and bronchitis. Study shows also shows that there is no safe level of second hand smoke. Though we have enough laws to protect us from such hazard, a concerted effort from all sector of society is still needed for the advocacy, Tubera stressed.
In line with the advocacy, the HSO will be tapping the assistance of the government agencies, the transport sector, the academe and the communities through the 128 barangays in achieving a 100% smoke free Baguio City.
The campaign will also involve the posting of no-smoking signs and the use of the graphical warning signs on all public utility vehicles and terminals, government agencies, including the city government offices. According to Tubera, studies have proven that the posting of no-smoking signs shows a 50 percent (smokers-quitting) effectivity rate.
Cigarette firms have objected to a Department of Health directive that requires them to post graphic photos of lung cancer victims on the packs or boxes of their tobacco products. (At the Republic level there is an ongoing battle to get graphic warnings on cigarette packs.) Reyes said the government also rejected an offer made by a top cigarette firm to donate ash trays that distill cigarette smoke in areas designated as smoking zones. “We do not want to dilute our program by sending the wrong signals. We can't have a cigarette company run our anti-smoking drive,” she said.
Teenagers belonging to the group “Saleng” have been touring a skit about the impact of smoking on a man they call “Mr. X.” Local officials said the images they display could be used as template for the anti-smoking posters. The group flashed pictures of Mr. X's psoriasis (a chronic skin disease characterized by red patches and scales) at age 21, his stomach ulcers at 22, and his underdeveloped sperm cell, resulting in infertility at 25. They also held up pictures of Mr. X's premature aging at 27, his osteoporosis at 38, and his lung cancer at 40. These images form the “smoker's body,” which Reyes described as “a monster's body.
References: Baguio launches ESHUT, "100% Smoke Free Baguio City" campaign by Lito Dar, Philippine Information Agency (PIA), 12/7/2010; Baguio to show graphic images of cancer illness to discourage smoking
by Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon, Inquirer.net, 12/7/2010.
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