Anti-smoking in schools

EVERY citizen of this country has the right to health protection and to breathe a clean air.

In the 2nd state of the nation address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, he included in his talk the implementation of Executive Order No. 26, providing for the establishment of smoke-free environments in public and enclosed places.

This is also the implementation of the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 that prohibits smoking inside enclosed public places including public vehicles, enclosed areas and schools and the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 (RA 9211) that prohibits smoking in certain public places, including the purchase and sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to and by minors.

Smoking refers to the act of carrying a lighted cigarette or other tobacco products, whether or not it is being inhaled or smoked. Republic Act No. 9211 informs the public of the health risks associated with cigarette smoking and tobacco use and protects the youth from being initiated to cigarette smoking and tobacco use by prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to minors or the sale or distribution of tobacco products within one hundred (100) meters from any point of the school perimeter.

It emphasized that smoking shall be absolutely prohibited in centers of youth activity as playschools, preparatory schools, elementary schools, high schools, youth hostels, and recreational facilities for persons under eighteen (18) years old.

Smoking is prohibited in elevator and stairwells; in location in which fire hazards are present, including gas stations and storage areas for flammable liquids, gas, explosives or combustible materials; within the buildings and premises of public and private hospitals, medical, dental, and optical clinics, health centers, nursing homes, dispensaries and laboratories; in public conveyance and public facilities including airport and ship terminals and train and bus stations, restaurant and conference halls, except for separate smoking areas; and  in food preparation areas.

The Act regulates and subsequently bans all tobacco advertisements and sponsorships including the labeling of tobacco products. As an effect of banning to farmers, the Act assists and encourages Filipino tobacco farmers to cultivate alternative agricultural crops to prevent economic dislocation.

State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and technical and Vocational Schools are required to provide scholarships programs to defendants of tobacco growers affected by the enactment of the Act.

Tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke cause death, disease and disability. A number of Filipinos become afflicted with and die each year of tobacco related diseases, such as, stroke, heart disease, and various cancers. And nicotine addiction is increasing.

Studies showed that smoking at an early age insures a person to be addicted to nicotine. And data shows that half of those who go into smoking will die of the ill effects and the rest will have disabilities. This information is very alarming.

There is a need for an advocacy program to instruct the young on the adverse effects of cigarette tobacco smoking, including their health, environmental and economic implications. This shall be integrated into the existing curricula of all public and private elementary and high schools as well as in colleges and universities. Our authorities in education shall promulgate rules and regulations to carry out the anti-smoking policies and shall cause the publication and distribution of materials on the unhealthy effects of smoking to students and the general public as awareness campaign.

Officials in charge of schools, public playground, youth hostels, and recreational facilities for minors shall report to the nearest Smoke-Free Task Force of the concerned city or municipality any tobacco product selling, advertising and/or promotion located within 100 meter perimeter from the said areas.

Schools, as learning institutions and molders of our youths who are the future drivers of this nation, have a great role of this campaign against smoking.

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