June 14, 2024

The Department of Health Cordillera, through the Regional Tobacco Control Network (RTCN), is intensifying efforts to attain a smoke-free and healthier Cordillera.

During their first quarter meeting, the network members discussed strategies on how to strengthen awareness of the ill effects of smoking and vaping, especially among youth.

A recent youth tobacco survey in Baguio City showed a decrease in tobacco use, but there is an emergence of a vape epidemic among the youth with the bulk of users aged 13 to 15 years.

Dr. Jennifer Joyce Pira of DOH and Cecille Agpawa of the Transcend Institution discussed the importance of public awareness and education in combating the tobacco epidemic and vape-demic.

She said it is important for people to understand facts about vaping and tobacco smoking to help them make better choices in life, especially concerning their health.

Dr. Donnabel T. Panes, Baguio City Tobacco Control coordinator, also talked about the deadly impacts of vaping and addiction.

To counter the vape epidemic, the Smoke-Free Baguio task force has been intensifying information, education, and communication campaigns and engaging and partnering with schools and other stakeholders to further anti-smoking advocacy within their circles, she said.

Aside from the conduct of intensified information campaign using traditional and digital media, one activity identified to further strengthen awareness is through MPOWER or the training of trainers among the network members on monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies; protecting people from tobacco smoke; offering help to quit tobacco use; warning about the dangers of tobacco; enforcing ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and raising taxes on tobacco.

Another is to advocate for the stricter implementation of  Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular 17, s. 2009, adopting and promulgating a 100 percent smoke-free policy and a smoking prohibition in all areas of government premises, buildings and grounds, except for open spaces designated as smoking areas, to ensure a healthy and productive workforce.

The RTCN also agreed to conduct a reorientation on the roles and functions of each member.

Also, considered crucial in the campaign are the move to increase the prices of electronic smoking devices at the national level in the form of taxation, and the strict enforcement of Republic Act 11900 prohibits individuals under 18 years old from purchasing vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products.

The RTCN envisions a dynamic and empowered multi-sectoral organization committed to a 100 percent smoke-free environment in the Cordillera. – Maria Aprila Cruz