Smoke-free Baguio programs pushed

BAGUIO CITY (29 January 2021) – City Health Services Office (HSO) head and anti-smoking task force (ASTF) vice-chairperson Dr.Rowena Galpo during the city hall flag-raising last week outlined the accomplishment, present programs and future plans for a smoke-free Baguio.

Speaking before city officials and employees, Galpo said that even as year 2020 proved to be a challenge specially in the health sector due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the smoke-free Baguio program has moved slowly, surely and is expected to be strengthened through a monthly compliance monitoring system. This would be implemented through a continuing inspection of public conveyances, public terminals, health care and government facilities, establishments and buildings as to the provision of tobacco ads and promotions ban and access restriction.

The actions are anchored on provisions of City Ordinance 34, 2017 which prohibits the use, sale, distribution and advertisement of cigarette and other tobacco products in certain places; and other local and national issuances, it was also reported.

Baguio continues to work with local, national and international entities for the protection of the general public and to lessen the number of smokers, helping them to quit through implements such as Johnson and Johnson–donated Nicotine patches, with Baguio being chosen by the World Health Organization as recipient. The donation is expected to arrive by late February or early March, with training of health care providers for services to be available and accessible in the district health centers, Dr. Galpo added.

Accomplishment for the past year includes the development of effective monitoring and reporting system and corresponding tools; and barangay involvement in the smoke-free program implementation with the participation of the district health sanitation team. Anti-smoking compliance monitoring of establishments were also integrated with other health district’s programs.

Four hundred sixty-five (465) city and community enforcers were counted as arms in the operation of the program in coordination with the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) and Public Order and Safety Division (POSD), Galpo noted.

Under Administrative Order 136, 2019, 16 community task forces were established to ensure the well-being of Baguio constituents, protected from the harmful effects of smoking and tobacco consumption, and that potential exposure to tobacco marketing and advertising is reduced, Galpo also said.

 Galpo reported that in 2020, compliance monitoring, distribution of information and education campaign (IEC) materials, conduct of various advocacy activities and massive IEC were conducted through barangay assemblies. At the same time, there were 4,809 individuals and 45 establishments apprehended for violations in the same year, with a total of P2,882,600 fines collected.

There is a 39.7 increase in individuals apprehended from the past year; as there were 3,443 violators in 2019; and a 70.1% decrease in establishments violations’, from 1,504 in 2019 to 450 in 2020; probably due to closure of establishments as to quarantine status, Galpo further reported.

All programs continue, until we increase the number of smoker-quitters, achieve cleaner air, and a smoke-free Baguio, Galpo ended.

Other activities during the flag raising ceremonies are the crushing of cigarettes, tobacco products, vaping and products and awarding of winners for Anti-smoking activities for the youth. – Julie G. Fianza