Baguio holds ‘321 deaths’ anti-tobacco art installation

Baguio holds ‘321 deaths’ anti-tobacco art installation

The city government under Mayor Benjamin Magalong in collaboration with ImagineLaw conducted a ‘321 Deaths’ Art Installation on Thursday, April 21, at Malcolm Square composed of 321 pairs of shoes and slippers to commemorate the number of Filipinos who die every day due to tobacco-related diseases.

“Tobacco companies and their products are deadly.  Their business model thrives on addiction and death. These companies are neither friends nor allies,” Atty. Sophia San Luis, ImagineLaw executive director, claimed during the event.

She stressed that stronger tobacco control policies should be put in place in order to protect Filipinos from the harm brought by the tobacco industry and its products.

Councilor Joel Alangsab, city health officer Dr. Rowena Galpo, and Atty. Kristina Louise Magalong who represented her father, the Mayor, during the activity, all stated that the Summer Capital has a strong resolve to prioritize the health of its residents over the profit-driven interest of tobacco companies.

Galpo is the vice-chairperson of the Smoke-Free Baguio Task Force and co-organizer of the art installation.

Since the enactment of the Smoke-Free Baguio Ordinance in 2017, principally authored by councilor Alangsab, the city has noted a dramatic decrease in the number of adult and adolescent tobacco smokers.  Last February, Baguio also received the 2021 Healthy Cities Award from the World Health Organization for its ‘commitment to implement smoke-free laws’.

“The biggest challenge we face is from the tobacco industry that pours money and efforts in undoing our tobacco control work. Policy making should be protected from the tobacco industry and its lobby groups,” Galpo disclosed.

San Luis  urged all local government units to emulate Baguio in adopting stronger tobacco control policies and to “shun tobacco companies and save Filipino lives.”

The shoes and slippers were donated to selected charity organizations after the half-day art installation.Event partners include the SCAN (Smokefree Cities Asia Pacific Network), Smoke-free Benguet, BGHMC, Baguio SLU-Medicine Campus Lions Club, Rotaract Club of Baguio SLU-School of Medicine, SLU School of Medicine Medical Outreach Missions, Pines City College of Medicine, DOH, Philhealth, DepEd, DENR, LTFRB, BIR, NBI, DOLE, SSS, DOTR/LTO, Baguio-Benguet Ecumenical Group, Benguet Provincial Health Office, University of the Cordilleras, and Smoke-Free Baguio and Community Task Force. – Gaby B. Keith