Tobacco-free-A A +A
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
WHAT has Panay got that Negros Occidental has not? For one thing, Panay has won many 2012 DOH Red Orchid Awards (ROA) for local government units, government offices and hospitals. In Panay, ginapiko ang mga ROAs. But in Negros Occidental, ginakamote ang mga LGUs!
LGU winners are awarded ROAs on the basis of comprehensive efforts to implement a 100 percent Tobacco-Free environment of MPOWER. “M” stands for monitoring tobacco use, “P” for protecting people from tobacco smoke, “O” for offer to help people quit smoking, “W” for warning on the dangers of smoking, “E” for enforcement of bans, and “R” for raising taxes on tobacco.
The Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9211, or the Tobacco Regulations Act of 2003, mandate local governments to remove tobacco ads within a 100-meter radius from the perimeter of any school, public playground, and other facilities frequented by persons below 18 years old.
True, Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. has earlier ordered mayors in the towns and cities in the province to comply with the law. But the measure falls short of the Negros Oriental approach—or at least that of Amlan which has pioneered its anti-smoking ordinance. Instead of tobacco ads, Amlan placed tarps with graphic images of ill-effects of smoking posted prominently in public places.
While Amlan bans smoking in public places defined by law, it compliments law enforcement with public education. The LGU mobilized the citizens to contribute to the information education campaign. Many of Amlan’s prominent establishments and citizens paid for these tarps plastered on walls and electric posts.
Do we see anti-smoking ads in public places of the province, or at least in Bacolod? The most I can see are inside malls, schools, some government buildings or in jeepneys with ubiquitous signs “No Smoking, City Ordinance 84, Series of 1993.” But almost nothing out on the streets.
Moreover, the Bacolod anti-smoking signages contain no graphic content, making the messages bland, bereft of shock value. Just one of those ubiquitous messages that compete for our attention. Graffiti on walls seems to command a better audience than these ho-hum messages.
Can our LGUs win ROAs? Can Negrenses change? Why not, especially if our local executives lead through well-advertised examples.
In fact, the lack of public education on the dangers of smoking is telling on the poor. In many of my court-annexed mediation cases, parties invoke poverty as their reason for their inability to pay their financial obligations. Is that true?
And yet, when I asked how they spend their meager income, invariably most of the men admitted they allocate a portion of their meager income to buy cigarettes. Talk of misplaced priorities in life. These smokers fail to see the connection between cigarette smoking and poverty.
Seventeen years ago, 22 international organizations and individuals convened at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Study and Conference Center in Italy to examine the implications of current global trends in tobacco production and consumption, especially in developing countries, for sustainable development.
In the course of presentations and discussions on tobacco use and control and situation analyses from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, they noted that world-wide, there are only two major underlying causes of premature death that are increasing substantially—HIV and tobacco. Annually, three million of these 30 million adult deaths in the world are blamed on smoking.
The DOH, National Statistics Office and the World Health Organization did a Global Adult Tobacco Survey in 2009. According to the survey, 17.3 million of Filipinos are smokers.
How many of them are going to be unproductive citizens? Can the taxpayers afford to pay for our public hospitals to take care of victims of tobacco smoking? Can our province not afford to win ROAs to safeguard the health of Negrenses?
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 20, 2012.