Philippines: Ormoc aims to be No. 1 non-smoking city nationwide

24 June 2018:

ORMOC CITY, Philippines — A task force created by Mayor Richard Gomez last April 17 to effectively implement the country’s anti-smoking laws in this city held a launching activity on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 19, at the city stage.

This, after the mayor himself led a drive to take down cigarette posters displayed in government buildings and near schools. The task force also went on a study tour in Maasin City in Southern Leyte, some two hours away, to learn how the city achieved the Red Orchid Hall of Fame award.

Mayor Gomez said that he wants Ormoc to be the “number one non-smoking city in the Philippines.”

Present during the launching were members of the task force which came from various government offices like the city administrator’s, the Army, the OBO, city engineering, city legal office, city information office, the BPLO, the police, city treasurer’s, ENRO, DepEd, Liga nga Barangay, CSWDO, and the HRMO.  The Kiwanis of Geo-Ormoc was also present as the city’s private sector representative to the program.

Also present were councilors Mario Rodriguez, head of the Sangguniang Panlungsod committee on health, and Eusebio Gerardo Penserga. Both are doctors.

In his speech, Rodriguez said he was once a smoker and he found it hard to quit the habit. He was only able to quit it when, while in the US, he saw drop banners honoring Sammy Davis Jr.’s death with the words: “He took our breath away, cancer took his breath away.”

Rodriguez said the words got him thinking and that was when he decided to quit. He also said that aside from being a hard habit to quit, smoking is also a health problem. He said that so much money is spent on diseases related to smoking when it is preventable.

Rodriguez added that he believes the city’s anti-smoking effort will succeed, with Ormoc police city director Senior Superintendent Ramil Ramirez taking the lead in enforcement. He said he once saw Ramirez arrest a smoker who had the misfortune of doing it on the roadside while the police officer passed by.

Penserga said he also tried smoking for a week during his youth. He never really enjoyed it and this got him asking what he was doing.

Penserga said that if Ormoc was able to become the safest city in the Philippines, he is also confident that Ormoc can be the number 1 non-smoking city in the country.

Another speaker was Lieutenant Colonel Hilarion Palma, representing Brigadier General Lope Dagoy. He admitted he had a smoking habit which he had tried to quit many times but failed, but he supports the anti-smoking drive of Ormoc City, saying it is for the benefit of everybody.

The simple launching was capped with the ceremonial tearing up of cutouts representing cigarettes, and a celebratory shower of confetti. 

Source: Phil Star