AROUND 17 local government units (LGUs) in Northern Mindanao have been declared smoke-free, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

Of the smoke-free LGUs in the region, 12 are in Misamis Occidental. The others are Malaybalay and Maramag in Bukidnon, Mambajao and Guinsiliban in Camiguin, and Talisayan in Misamis Oriental.

Dr. Tristan Labitad, head of the Non-Communicable Disease Cluster of DOH-Northern Mindanao, said they have been coordinating with the LGUs to make Northern Mindanao a smoke-free region.

"Technical assistance ang atong gina-provide sa atoang mga LGUs. Naa pud tay Regional Tobacco Control Network kon diin daghang members niana gikan sa laing-laing LGUs, even government offices involved niana," Labitad said.

The region's health department has also encouraged the LGUs to create an ordinance that specifies where the designated smoking area and no smoking area are located in a facility.

"Kay ilaha man nang community. So at their level, it’s the responsibility sa mga legislators sa syudad to create such ordinance. Example naay designated smoking area ang usa ka facility or there should be no smoking at all kani nga facility, especially kung ga-target ta to become a Red Orchid Awardee," Labitad said.

The DOH Red Orchid Award is an annual search for the 100 percent tobacco-free environment covering government workplaces, hospitals and local government units. It is given to those who responded positively, installed necessary policies, and implemented direct action of achieving 100 percent smoke-free offices, schools, public places, local government units, and other place where people congregate.

"Hopefully, ang atong mga local government units mohatag og aksyon batok niini kay ingon pa nila ang uban gipasagdahan na lang nila kay lisod man daw ang enforcement," Labitad said.

Labitad said there are several factors the LGUs have to consider when coming up with the ordinance. One of the concerns, he said, is the livelihood of those who sell tobacco or cigarettes.

"Wala na nato nga gi-neglect nga factor. Mao na sya kanunay kitang nakig-coordinate with the LGUs kay para matabangan ta nila sa aspeto sa health," Labitad said.