Iloilo City hosts Summit of Smoke-Free ASEAN Cities

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Iloilo City, Philippines/21 May 2015: Iloilo City, a 100 percent smoke-free city led by its Mayor, Jed Patrick Mabilog, hosts for the third time in the Philippines, a historic gathering of tobacco control champions from all over the ASEAN region.

With the theme “Building the Alliance of Smoke-free Cities in the ASEAN regional, the conference being held at Diversion 21 Hotel in Iloilo City, opened with a regional workshop on May 20. It continues on today the 21stand brings together Philippine City Mayors, ASEAN Governors and leaders who have championed making their cities and municipalities 100 percent smoke-free.

Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) Executive Director, Ms. Bungon Ritthiphakdee says, “the gathering hopes to expand the Smoke-free Cities ASEAN Network (or SCAN), a network of smoke-free cities, municipalities, and provinces in Southeast Asia.

The summit and workshop are organized by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), in close collaboration with the World Health Organization in the Western Pacific Region and the Department of Health of the Philippines, and hopes to realize the following specific objectives:

  • Assess and evaluate the compliance of sub-national smoke-free laws with the WHO- Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Article 8 Guidelines;
  • Share updates and lessons learned from the best practices of countries, cities and other smoke-free settings/ places arouind ASEAN;
  • Determine annual progress by identifying the key elements present in their smoke-free city campaigns using the Smoke-free Meter;
  • Identify ways of strengthening mechanisms of enforcement and prepare some action points through the lessons learned from other cities and countries;
  • Learn from Iloilo City’s own smoke-free initiatives and programs.

A Smoke-Free declaration will be signed and approved by the participating mayors and governors, and there will be an election of officers for both the Regional and Philippine branch of the smoke-free network.

Other participants to the two-day smoke-free activities are from local and international tobacco control civil societies, government officials and other representatives from the ASEAN. 

Last year, Balanga City, led by its mayor, another staunch tobacco control advocate, and recently appointed Interim President of the Network of Philippine Mayors Executive Council, Jose Enrique Garcia, hosted the 2ndASEAN Regional Smoke-free Workshop. The year before, Davao City, led by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte hosted the first ever ASEAN Smoke-free meeting.

Globally, tobacco use kills nearly six million people annually and by the year 2030, 80 percent of tobacco-related deaths will occur in developing countries including many Asian nations. There are 600 deaths yearly due to exposure from second-hand-smoke (SHS). “100 percent smoke-free environments fully protect workers, the young, and the public from serious harmful effects of tobacco smoke, prevent people, specially the youth, from starting to smoke, and are good for business, as more and more peole prefer to go to smoke-free places” Ms. Ritthiphakdee adds. (ENDS)