Tacloban City—Advocacy groups Rights Network and Katarungan-Leyte asked local government units in Eastern Visayas to ensure the implementation of tobacco control laws, particularly the joint memorandum circular 2010-01 of the Department of Health and the Civil Service Commission.
“The tobacco industry had been very creative in their dealings and interference. Thus, we would like to help in raising awareness within the community and the local government units that there are existing laws on tobacco control and tobacco industry interference,” said Florina Reyes of Rights Network during a forum in Tacloban City on Tuesday.
Reyes, Rights’ Leyte team leader for anti-tobacco campaign, sought the commitment of the newly elected local government officials in ensuring the implementation and information dissemination of the said memorandum.
“As farmers, and as parents, we are at a point when we cannot afford to get sick, much less inflicted with the health problems that come with smoking, what with copra and palay prices at its level low and we are encountering many challenges in farm production,” added Lolita Candaza, spokesperson of Katarungan-Leyte.
During the forum attended by over 70 representatives from various sectors and government offices, Candaza appealed to LGU officials to pass municipal ordinances and “ensure an honest to goodness smoking cessation program to aid those who are willing to stop smoking.”
“The tobacco industry is ensuring that they have a captive customer base in the youth, with the introduction of vapes and other products that promise less tar, less nicotine and less addictive. We have yet to see the full-blown effects of these products to our youth,” said Vincent Basiano, Rights’ Tacloban coordinator for anti-tobacco campaign.
Basiano noted that tobacco industry is now focusing its effort in attracting the youth sector by introducing products that appeal to the younger generation.
“Ensure the legacy of health and a smoke free environment for the youth, the hope of the future. And this, essentially, is what this advocacy is about,” added Jonathan Ramirez, student leader from Leyte National High School during the forum.