June 20, 2024

Baguio City copped an international award for its smoke-free programs.
The Smoke-Free Baguio Task Force (SFTF) received the Healthy Cities Award from the World Health Organization under the category of “Sharing clean air: Committed to multi-sectoral implementation of smoke-free laws.”
Mayor Benjamin Magalong, Councilor Joel Alangsab and members of the SFTF accepted the award during the virtual WHO awards ceremony as part of the 9th Global Conference of the Alliance for Healthy Cities (AFHC) held Nov. 5, 2021.
The city was cited for its best practices and innovations it adopted and implemented in the community to promote and protect the health of its urban population amid the challenges of the pandemic.
The awards program by the AFHC WHO-Western Pacific Region Office has been done since 2004 and every two years thereafter to encourage cities in the Western Pacific Region to continue to innovate and demonstrate effective and efficient ways of promoting health and urban populations. 
The task force led by the mayor and Alangsab in his capacity as the city council committee on health chair said the city will continue to uphold its advocacy until the last cigarette is put off in Baguio.
The city’s smoke-free advocacy is anchored on Ordinance 34 s. 2017 or Smoke-Free Ordinance which prohibits the use, sale, distribution and advertisement of cigarettes and other tobacco products with corresponding penalties imposed.
To ensure the strict implementation of the ordinance, the task force was created which spearheaded the implementation of other smoke-free programs like the continuous information-education-communication campaign to educate the residents; conduct of regular compliance monitoring of residents and establishments in the barangays;  provision of assistance to smokers willing to quit under the smoke cessation program; and training of enforcers in the barangay level to augment manpower implementing the ordinance.
The task force said through the ordinance, the city has successfully upheld the protection and promotion of the right to health of the people of Baguio.
“The city has significantly shrunk the areas where people are allowed to smoke and has limited access to tobacco products especially in public areas of the city. Testimonies have been accruing from successful quitters. Barangay officials and residents have been empowered to further fight for this advocacy,” the task force said. – Aileen P. Refuerzo