More intensive campaign, policy advocacy needed for smoke-free environment, study shows

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BAGUIO CITY (PIA) – Encouraging smoke-free public and private spaces entails a more intensive campaign, and policy advocacy, based on a local research commissioned by the World Health Organization.
Results of the study conducted by the Cordillera Regional Research and Development Consortium in partnership with public health think tank, Health Justice Philippines , were presented in a forum in Baguio City on Tuesday (January 30, 2024).
The study assessed the effectiveness of smoke-free ordinances through policy evaluation, compliance, and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.
Dr. Nelson Hora, head of the research team, said a cross-sectional design has been adopted for the study that targeted government institutions, recreational spaces, and transportation terminals in Baguio City, and the municipalities of Buguias, and La Trinidad in Benguet.
The results of the study showed that smoke-free policies in local government units vary in stringency, specifically how these policies are financed for a more effective implementation as well as what products are regulated.
Despite showing a high compliance rate, the LGUs and areas surveyed revealed a particular loophole in the implementation of the policies, Hora said.
The study also showed that environmental tobacco smoke or exposure to tobacco smoke is inversely proportional to the stringency of smoke-free policies.
“The more stringent ‘yung policies, the lesser ‘yung exposure to environmental tobacco smoke especially in public places. Pero may exemption siya. In private spaces, prevalent pa rin ang exposure to second hand smoke,” Hora explained.
With the results, Hora said there is a need to expand pertinent regulations as applicable.
A whole-of-society approach and a continuous policy advocacy drive are also crucial, he added.
The research result is expected to drive both local and national governments to formulate, design, and revise smoke-free policies, programs, and activities that will create and promote a healthy environment for Filipinos.
Representatives of Baguio and Benguet LGUs welcomed the results of the study as they commit to strive more for a smoke-free public and private spaces.
Lawyer Benedict Nisperos of HealthJustice said the research will help them push for a national law on both smoke-free and vape-free environment.
“What we want is to have a comprehensive national law. So, whatever policies that we have in terms of smoke-free and vape-free, kailangang maging batas kasi wala pa po talagang batas,” Nisperos said.
He said that Republic Act 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 does not reflect much of the good policies under Executive Orders 26 and 106.
Executive Order 26 series 2017 provides for the establishment of smoke-free environments in public and enclosed places. In 2020, Malacañang also issued EO 106 prohibiting the manufacture, distribution, marketing and sale of unregistered and/or adulerated electronic nicotine/non-nicotine delivery systems, heated tobacco products and other novel tobacco products, amending EO No. 26. RA 11900 or the Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act lapsed into law in July 2022. **JDP/DEG-PIA CAR


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