March 3, 2024

■  Rimaliza A. Opiña 

Smoking in homes and neighborhoods remain prevalent despite gains in regulating the use of tobacco products and vape in business establishments, private, and government offices, an assessment report funded by the World Health Organization-Western Pacific Region showed.

In an assessment report covering 2022 and 2023 on the effectiveness of the smoke-free policies of the local governments of Baguio and La Trinidad, and Buguias in Benguet by Drs. Donnabel Panes, Nelson Hora, and Ma. Cecilia Agpawa in collaboration with Health Justice, a non-stock, non-profit organization, showed many people continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke due to unregulated and unmonitored smoking in private spaces in homes and neighborhoods.

The report showed unregulated smoking in private and enclosed spaces undermine the gains of LGUs that have adopted measures to regulate the use, advertising, and sale of tobacco products.

The assessment report focusing on enforcement, compliance, and exposure showed while all three LGUs have “smoke-free” ordinances, environmental tobacco smoke exposure or second-hand smoke exposure is an issue that have to be addressed in order to lessen the number of people exposed to the dangers of inhaling tobacco smoke.

In samplings of 30 respondents per category – enforcement, compliance, exposure, per LGU, the report showed Baguio has the lowest exposure to environmental tobacco smoke: 10 percent in workplaces, seven percent in food establishments, three percent in public transport, and 38 percent within houses.

For La Trinidad, 22 percent are exposed in food establishments, 27 percent in workplaces, 20 percent in public transportation terminals, and 27 percent in homes and neighbors.

For Buguias, 23 percent in workplaces, 16 percent in food establishments, 21 percent in public transportation, and 21 percent in homes.

Buguias also scored the least in compliance with its smoke-free policy at 61.2 percent.

Indoor and outdoor smoking remains prevalent despite a smoke-free ordinance at 81.4 percent and 76.7 percent, respectively. Enforcement of smoking prohibition is only 20.4 percent, and tobacco sales and advertising are high at 85 percent and 96.7 percent, respectively. 

To address tobacco smoke exposure at homes, the researchers recommended development of smoke-free approaches in private places.

For Buguias, the researchers recommended for the LGU to step up the implementation of its smoke-free policy by adopting fines for violations and strengthen its regulation of the sale of tobacco and other nicotine-laden products.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that exposure to secondhand smoke could cause heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, reproductive health problems, sudden infant death syndrome, and can trigger asthma attacks, among other illnesses.

The researchers also reported some gains in the smoke-free policy of the government.

Baguio has the highest level of compliance among the three LGUs which showed a 69.7 percent adherence to the smoke-free policy, 93.3 percent no active smoking outside premises, 23.6 percent no smoking within premises, 98.3 percent no selling of tobacco products within the premises, and 100 percent absence of any form of tobacco advertising.

For La Trinidad, 63 percent compliance with smoke-free policy. It also scored the high on indoor smoking ban, ban on tobacco sales within establishments, and regulation of advertising at 84.1 percent, 93.3 percent, and 100 percent, respectively.