Task force vows to step up tobacco control efforts

ILOILO City – The Iloilo City Anti-Smoking Task Force (ICAST) has vowed to double its efforts to keep this city smoke-free.

This city has been named one of the five recipients of the “World No Tobacco Day” Award from the World Health Organization (WHO) – Western Pacific Region.

ICAST director Iñigo Garingalao said the task force would be bring the anti-smoking campaign down to the village level.

WHO particularly recognized efforts of this city in smoking cessation services and the protection of minors.

The city government recently ran an intensive campaign encouraging smokers to quit with the help of the city’s “Quitline” and cessation services at health centers.

It also prohibits the sale of tobacco products to minors, as well as near schools and other places frequented by minors.

Also, the city government has banned vaping and shisha and designated smoking areas.

WHO and its global partners celebrated “World No Tobacco Day” Friday last week. They pressed for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption and engage stakeholders across multiple sectors in the fight for tobacco control.

“Through the years, we had proven that we did our best to implement this campaign. We have leveled up because we know it’s about health. This is significant because we balance the fast development of Iloilo with the health of the constituents,” Garingalao said.

WHO also cited the additional tax introduced in the city for the sale of cigarettes, alongside increased penalties for violations.

The implementation of a “Non-Smoker Preferential Policy” in the hiring of city government employees also gained WHO’s appreciation.

“I’m delighted to see the strong action our awardees are taking to control tobacco – from higher taxes to quit programs to smoke-free areas. The results of their activities are even more encouraging: smoking rates are decreasing in many of these places, as are diseases caused by tobacco, such as lung cancer,” said Dr. Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific. (PNA)


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