March 25, 2023

Around 170 foreign and local delegates from countries in the Asia Pacific Region converged in the city for the 8th Asia Pacific Smoke-Free Meeting of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) held Oct. 27 to 28 at the Baguio Country Club.
Participants were mostly governors, mayors, smoke-free focal persons, tobacco control advocates, and representatives of civil society organizations.
Organized by the city government, the Department of Health, World Health Organization in the Western Pacific Region, and the SEATCA, the regional meeting had the theme, “Rising amidst the Challenges: Strengthening and Sustaining Smoke-Free Implementation.”
It aimed to share best practices on smoke-free implementation and enforcement as part of comprehensive tobacco control and health promotion and teach the importance and the process of preparing an effective smoke-free enforcement mechanism and identify and respond to challenges in implementing policies and sustaining the smoke-free campaign with the emergence of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), heated tobacco products (HTPs), and others.
It was the city’s first time to host the event, which was held in Davao City in 2013, Balanga City in 2014 and Iloilo City in 2015.
Dignitaries who graced the first day included League of Provinces President Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr., WHO-WPRO Tobacco-Free Initiative Coordinator Ms Xi Yin, Senior Officials Meeting for Health and Development Chair Lao PDR, SEATCA Executive Director Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, and SEATCA Smoke-free Program Manager Dr. Domilyn Villarreiz.
DOH OIC Sec. Maria Rosario Vergeire served as the keynote speaker.
Various topics were discussed, workshops and planning of next steps for each country were conducted, and presentation of the outputs capped the event. – Aileen P. Refuerzo