February 23, 2024

The Department of the Interior and Local Government is calling on local government units with no smoke-free policies yet to enact their own now to protect public health and instill health consciousness among the people.

The DILG issued Memorandum Circular 2017-147 enjoining LGUs to support Executive Order 26 entitled, “Providing for the establishment of smoke-free environments in public and enclosed places” issued in May 2017. 

The EO bans smoking in enclosed spaces, public places, and public conveyances and sets standards on designated smoking areas.

The DILG is monitoring LGUs on their compliance to said directive.

During the smoke-free research dissemination forum in Baguio City on Jan. 30, DILG-Cordillera Director Araceli San Jose said only 28 LGUs in the Cordillera have smoke-free policies in place.

“We will require them to enact their own ordinances and come up with plans and fund these initiatives as contained in their plan,” San Jose said.

She commended the City of Baguio and Benguet for being among the first LGUs to enact anti-smoking policies.

She said some municipalities in Benguet implemented smoke-free ordinances even before the issuance of EO 26.

San Jose urged the concerned stakeholders to assist barangays in the implementation of policies as they have the potential to effectively disseminate the message of promoting a smoke-free Cordillera.

“We must reiterate and strengthen our call to LGUs, especially outside Baguio and Benguet for them to scale up their information drives and advocacy campaigns at the barangay level.”

She also appealed to LGU officials to complement their policies with appropriate action plans, to revisit the local health board, and to organize a task force to operationalize their objectives.

“We appeal to our LGU officials and functionaries to walk the talk. Let us be faithful to our ordinances and let us enforce them,” San Jose emphasized.

The DILG-Cordillera is coordinating with the Department of Health to come up with a template of smoke-free ordinances to include vape-free policies to guide LGUs.

They will also integrate these discussions into their online knowledge-sharing sessions for LGUs.

The DILG committed to drafting responsive policies and developing effective programs that are data-driven and grounded on scientific evidence.

Together with concerned offices, the agency is ready to help LGUs in preparing their smoke-free policies and push for a healthy Cordillera. – Debbie E. Gasingan