Group urges community leaders to lead campaign against cigarettes, vapes

The Social Watch Philippines (SWP), an organization advocating for pro-health and pro-people policies, has appealed to community leaders to push for more comprehensive smoke-free and vape-free ordinances.

SWP reminded the community leaders from Pateros, Pasig City, Manila City, Pasay City, Imus City, Calamba City, and Calauan to use their right to participate and spearhead initiatives to eradicate tobacco use and create a lasting health legacy within their areas.

“Every day, three hundred and twenty-one Filipinos succumb to diseases linked to tobacco. These individuals, comprising mothers, fathers, siblings, children, relatives, and acquaintances, were once integral members of our communities. Their preventable deaths underscore the importance of possessing accurate information, implementing laws against smoking in public areas and enclosed spaces, and allocating sufficient funds for smoke-free and vape-free initiatives. We have the means to make a difference—now is the time for us to take action and intervene,” said SWP Co-convenor Ma. Victoria Raquiza.

She stressed the communities’ successful participation in SWP campaigns, such as public finance, sin tax, universal health care, and child protection.

Raquiza also highlighted the victory of neighborhoods that worked to expand their smoking legislation and were able to ingrain smoke-free and vape-free cultures, particularly those located in Baguio City, Davao City, and Iloilo City.

“We have gathered sufficient evidence indicating the positive effects of laws in which citizens actively engage with the government by providing feedback, overseeing project implementation, and utilizing budget resources. Hence, active public participation plays a crucial role in the effective governance of our municipality and community. As residents, you hold a deeper understanding of the challenges in your areas, making you well-equipped to offer solutions and suggestions,” Raquiza explained.

She also requested the community leaders to demand accountability and guarantee the compliance of their respective local government units with the existing policies. She insisted on public health protection despite the tactics of the tobacco industry to undermine smoke-free and vape-free laws.

“Every individual, irrespective of their life circumstances, has the right to intervene, engage in community governance, and demand accountability from the government. Our government must guarantee the safety of citizens from diseases associated with both cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Prioritizing the health of their constituents is an obligation inherent in their role as public servants,” she added.

The SWP has also called the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Health (DOH) to further assist communities and barangays in promoting campaigns consistent with the national tobacco control regulations.

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