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DOH intensifies drive against smoking in schools

LEGAZPI CITY, June 23 – With the common goal of eliminating tobacco consumption among students and minors, the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Education (DepEd) combine their efforts in reminding the public of the hazards of smoking.

In observance of the celebration of the National No Smoking Month this June, DOH and DepEd issued a joint statement last June 20, strongly reminding all partner agencies, schools, universities, colleges, and parents to religiously enforce a 100% smoke-free rule in all school facilities.

“Studies have shown that most young people who smoke regularly continue to smoke throughout adulthood and fall prey to being ‘replacement smokers’ of the tobacco industry. Hence, we call on students, as well as the rest of our young population, to never start smoking,” said DOH secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin.

According to Garin, though it is important to educate the youth of the ill effects of tobacco, it also of equally important to protect them from secondhand smoke. The health chief added that the exposure or inhaling second-hand smoke is more dangerous than smoking itself, as it increases a non-smoker’s risk of developing heart disease, lung disease, and various forms of cancer.

With the school year having officially started this month, DOH intensifies their ‘smoke-free schools campaign’ by keeping students away from the dangers of firsthand or secondhand smoke.

Their efforts include a call of vigilant implementation of Republic Act 9211, or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003. RA 9211 strictly prohibits trade of tobacco products within 100 meters from a school perimeter, public playground or any location frequented by minors.

Violation of RA 9211 subjects the offender to a fine from Php 500 to Php 400,000 and imprisonment ranging from 30 days to three years, depending on the seriousness of the offense. Moreover, business and licenses may be revoked or cancelled.

DOH also looks to strengthen the full implementation of the Graphic Health Warnings (GHW) by November of this year. The full implementation of the GHW require all tobacco products manufactured or sold in the Philippines to have a picture depicting the damaging effects of smoking, in at least 50% of both sides of the pack.

For those smokers who would want to quit, Secretary Garin also states that professional help is available to those who would want to quit. “Not smoking, or quitting smoking, greatly reduces your risk for disease and early death,” Garin explained. (PIA)


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