DOH XII pushes for smoke-free environment in SOCCSKSARGEN

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, June 30 (PIA)— Second-hand smoke kills!

This is the battlecry of the Department of Health (DOH) Region XII as the agency steps up its campaign against smoking.

DOH XII program coordinator and nurse V Jenelyn Ellie Ventura said the agency is really pushing for a smoke-free (SF) environment through the Red Orchid Awards.

The Red Orchid Award is the search for the 100% smoke-free environment which came about as an off-shoot of different anti- tobacco policies that were created to combat the ill-effects of smoking.

The first awarding ceremony was done in 2010 and after 5 years of giving recognition to the different local government units, government offices, government hospitals and DOH regional offices, we are now starting our preparations for the 6th year of recognizing the different categories that have successfully turned their environment 100% smoke free in 2014, said Ventura.

There are 16 new entries from Region XII this year and 49 entries coming from the local government units, government offices, and DOH regional offices all over the country that are vying for the Red Orchid hall of fame.

Ventura said they are still in the validation stage of all entries while saying that awarding may be toward the end of this year.

The criteria for awarding DOH Red Orchid Awards winners are based on the comprehensive efforts to implement a 100% Tobacco-Free Environment using the World Health Organization MPOWER initiative.

MPOWER stands for M monitor tobacco control policies; P protect people from tobacco smoke; Ooffer help to quit tobacco use; W warn against the dangers of tobacco; E enforce bans on tobacco advertising ; R raise taxes on tobacco.

Ventura said that the assigning of colors follows after all indicators have been tallied and the total is ranged on percentage points.

The White and Pink Orchids are considered as runners- up and the Red Orchid is the winner, she said.

Also the selection of winners shall be determined based on four pillars of the Red Orchid Awards such as implementation and compliance of Republic Act 9211, an act regulating the packaging, use, sale, distribution and advertisement of tobacco products, also known as the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003.

The second pillar is the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the worlds first modern-day global public health treaty. It is also the first treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO).

In 2005, the Philippines subsequently ratified the FCTC, thus making it a part of domestic laws.

Next is Administrative Order 2009-0010, which is the rules and regulations promoting a 100% smoke-free environment specifically enjoining the absolute smoking ban in DOH offices, hospitals and attached agencies and encouraging the local government unit to do the same in their health facilities and other public places.

It also includes the ban on sale of tobacco products within 100 meters perimeter from all DOH regional offices and attached agencies, including hospitals and other health facilities.

Ventura further said that AO 0010 mandates the development of an award system for successful implementers of the 100% SF environment policy based on the WHO strategy paving the way then to the crafting of the Red Orchid Awards.

The fourth pillar is the CSC MC 17, which adopts and promulgates a 100% smoke-free policy and smoking prohibitions in all areas of government offices.

CSC MC 17 only allows smokers to smoke in locations within 10sqm outdoor designated smoking areas that are 10m away from buildings, entrances, and exits, Ventura explained. (CTApelacio/PIA-12 General Santos City)

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