Davao City, an area for smoke-free studies of foreign countries

July 26, 2010

After the successful implementation of anti-smoking in Davao City, the city became the site for study-tour of foreign nationals that are starting to implement the ban of smoking in their countries.
Dr. Domilyn C. Villareiz, co-chair, Anti-Smoking Task Force of Davao City said they had been receiving visitors from other countries in order to observe the implementation of the ban of smoking in the city with their recent visitors from Hanoi, Vietnam and from Thailand.

She said scheduled to visit the city are groups from Malaysia and Indonesia and they are interested in the implementation of the program saying that they have package destination where they bring these foreign nationals to observe.

Mostly, she said are in restaurants, parks, malls and in areas that are often frequented by the public.

Given the success of implementing the Anti-Smoking Ordinance, Villareiz said they get to be invited to lecture or talk to gatherings abroad and in other parts of the country.

Villareiz attributed the success of the implementation to the concerted efforts of both private and government as well as the effective strategies they adopted based on the law provided under Republic Act 9211 and City Ordinance No. 043.

Other cities in the Philippines also has crafted their own laws namely San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, Talisayan, Misamis Oriental, Sorsogon City, Umingan, Pangasinan, Amlan, Negros Oriental, Baguio City, Hagonoy, Bulacan, Legaspi, Albay, Malabon, San Carlos City, Tabaco City, Albay.

She said Baguio, San Carlos and San Jose have similar ordinances with Davao City while most of the cities and municipalities anti smoking ordinance followed the definition of Davao on enclosed places. The 17 cities in Metro Manila will be implementing RA 9211.

Villareiz stressed that under RA 9211 are some provisions that involves advertisements and promotions of cigarette products.

She said cigarette is a legal industry product but with prohibitions under the law they have to implement it just in the case of advertisements and promotions they already issued notices to stores displaying signages of their stores with cigarette markings.

“Definitely this is not allowed by law and some 35 stores were given notices to remove the signages,” she said.

Distribution of collateral like parasols and t-shirts are prohibited and for the public to be wearing or using them will also be reminded and when caught the next will be given sanctions and fine, she said.

Contrary to what other quarters noted, she said anti-smoking is not a hindrance to progress and tourism and definitely there is an increase in tourist arrivals in the city.

The other benefit of anti-smoking campaign is that it helps people increase their life span considering that they will be spared of suffering from respiratory illnesses when they do not smoke.

Citing statistics, she said three out of 10 Filipinos smoke or about 34 percent are smokers.

She also said the cases in Davao City posted a drop in the lung cancer mortality and morbidity rate from 113 deaths in 2008. It dropped to 38 in 2009.

Villareiz said the World Health Organization (WHO) sponsored Tobacco and Poverty Study in the Philippines that was completed in 2006 revealed that among the poorest of the poor, 64 percent of their monthly expenditure is spent on food, while tobacco comprised 2.5 percent, bigger than clothing at 2.3 percent, education at 1.4 percent and health 0.9 percent.

The study also revealed that tobacco greatly contributes to poverty since tobacco users are at a high risk of falling ill or die prematurely of cancer, heart attacks, respiratory diseases or other tobacco-related diseases thus depriving families of much needed income and imposing burden on health care costs which are mainly “out-of-pocket” expenses.

Meanwhile, the anti-smoking campaign in Davao City started in 2002 and it already earned two international and one regional awards. One of the international awards was given by the World Health Organization in 2008 for its Anti-Smoking Ordinance.

Also last year, she said Davao City got a regional award from the South East Asia Tobacco Central Alliance for its extensive advocacy on anti-smoking.

The other international award will be given in February 2010 by the Global Smoke-Free Partnership (GSFP) Award for Governmental Body with Exemplary Leadership in Implementing Smoke Free Policies. Other countries that will be recognized together with Davao City are Guatemala, Colombia, Turkey and India but these are on participation of non-government organization. (PNA)