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LGUs urged to have comprehensive tobacco control policies

ILOILO CITY (PIA6) -- The Department of Health Western Visayas - Center for Health Development (DOHWV-CHD) is urging local government units (LGUs) in the region to have comprehensive ordinances on tobacco control and management.

In a press conference on Thursday, August 3, 2023, John Richard Lapascua, Nurse V of DOH Region 6’s Non-Communicable Disease Unit, said that five respiratory diseases are among the top 10 causes of death in the region in 2022, noting that intervention and help of the LGUs are needed to minimize the trend.

Data presented by DOH-6 indicated that the five lung diseases included in the list are: Pneumonia (3rd – 24,772 cases), Acute respiratory infection (ARI) for 5 years old and above (5th – 19,871 cases), Tuberculosis (TB) (all forms) (6th – 17,549), ARI for below 5 years old (7th – 13,852), and Bronchitis (9th – 5,391). The said numbers are also alarming as they are higher compared to the recorded data in 2021.

Lapascua noted that 91 of the 133 LGUs in the region – 16 LGUs in Aklan; Antique (15); Capiz (14); Guimaras (3); Iloilo City and province (31); and Negros Occidental and Bacolod City (12) – already passed their own tobacco control policies, but these are not comprehensive enough, noting that they just most likely followed Republic Act (RA) 9211 or the Tobacco Regulations Act of 2002.

According to DOH-6, a tobacco control ordinance is only considered comprehensive if smoking is prohibited 10 meters away from public spaces or crowded areas; selling of cigarettes is prohibited 100 meters away from places usually frequented by minors; electronic cigarettes are prohibited; and tobacco advertising promotions and sponsorship are prohibited.

“That’s why gina-push naton subong comprehensive ordinance to ensure nga safe ang aton mga pumoluyo from tobacco smoke in public as well as gina-include na naton subong ang pag-prohibit sang e-cigarette, ” Lapascua stressed during the media conference as part of the National Lung Month.

Aside from having a comprehensive local policy, DOH-6 added that all rural health centers must also be capable of providing cessation services to smokers who want to stop their unhealthy habit, noting that each health center must have at least two personnel trained on smoking cessation processes.

To date, twenty-two LGUs already have smoking cessation clinics in the region and these LGUs are recipients of DOH’s Red Orchid Award, an annual recognition of institutions that promote a smoke-free environment.

As part of its consistent campaign against smoking and vaping, DOH already released its new set of graphic warnings on tobacco products as mandated under Republic Act 10643 (The Graphic Health Warnings Law). The graphic warnings show illnesses associated with tobacco use – foot gangrene, deep tissue infections, mouth cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer and lung disease, premature birth, and tooth loss.

The DOH-6 also reminded cigarette and ‘vape’ users that quitting such habits is an important way to protect their lung health and avoid diseases, noting that non-pharmacologic interventions like lifestyle changes contribute in achieving overall health improvement. (AAL/JNH/PIA6 Iloilo)

About the Author

John Noel Herrera

Information Officer

Region 6

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