April 22, 2024

The city government continues to wage an uphill battle against vapedemic or the growing prevalence of vaping among youth.

The Smoke-Free Baguio Task Force chaired by Mayor Benjamin Magalong and composed of various offices including the Public Order and Safety Division (POSD) as one of the enforcement arms said because of the allure of vaping among the youth, the city faces a challenging initiative to prevent this harmful habit.

The magnitude of the problem became evident when a 2023 revealed a significant number of apprehensions related to anti-smoking efforts and minors caught vaping.

In 2023 alone, there were 829 individual cases of anti-smoking violations and 1,326 establishments found in breach of smoking regulations, totaling 3,155 apprehended cases. Additionally, 350 reported cases of minors caught vaping from January to December 2023 highlight the pressing need for action.

These statistics underscore the ongoing efforts of Baguio City’s authorities in combating the pervasive issues of smoking and vaping among its populace, mainly targeting the youth.

POSD Chief Daryll Longid said the task force had put in place programs to address the problem making considerable progress in raising awareness levels and regulatory enforcement.

The POSD continues to lead strong campaigns against the vice with daily operations against violators.

Longid emphasized that 99.9 percent of all smoke free-related apprehensions in the city were courtesy of the POSD, underlining its primary and proactive role in campaign execution.

He said the task force also teamed up with educational institutions in implementing regulatory measures against vaping.

Collaboration with educational institutions had been pivotal in reaching out to the youth. Universities like the University of Baguio and the University of Cordilleras have actively participated in awareness campaigns, hosting events such as ceremonial crushings of e-cigarettes and informative talks on the dangers of vaping and smoking.

Collaborations between government agencies and non-profit organizations also bolstered anti-smoking/vaping endeavors.

The task force employs an assertive education approach targeting youth aged 15 and above through information, education and communication campaign initiatives.

Workshops and partnerships with institutions like CHED, DEPED, and DSWD evaluate the campaign’s effectiveness.

These efforts concentrate not only on enforcement but also on holistic education, aiming to alter perceptions and behaviors regarding smoking and vaping.

Local health authorities said that contrary to what most vapers think that it is a safer alternative to traditional smoking, vaping proved to be a harmful vice.

A recent study from the National Library of Medicine on e-cigarettes has revealed alarming health risks, including chronic lung diseases and systemic effects on various organs, prompting swift action from authorities.

Longid said vaping is treated with the same gravity as smoking,  citing severe lung injuries and escalating health care expenses linked to both habits.

He said that the vape industry often fosters the allure of vaping among the youth through misinformation. Young individuals must recognize the grave consequences of their actions, not only on their health but also on their loved ones- he stated. Through collaborative endeavors and aggressive education campaigns, Baguio City strives to guide its youth away from the harmful grips of vaping and smoking towards healthier and more promising paths for the youth. – Jedidiah Ugto and Aileen Refuerzo