June is No Smoking Month in the Philippines

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27 June 2016

Manila, Philippines: The Department of Health (DOH) headed by Secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin launched last 20 June the National No Smoking Month in Rizal High School, Pasig City, Philippines. 

During the launching, Secretary Garin strongly reminded partner agencies, schools, universities, colleges, and parents to religiously enforce 100% smoke-free school facilities as most classes in the country starts June and stressed the full implementation of Graphic Health Warning Law.

The theme of this year’s National No Smoking Month is, “Graphic Health Warnings: Full Blast na sa November! Alamin. Unawain. Bantayan Natin.” This raises awareness on the full implementation on the Graphic Health Warning law of the Philippines this November that requires all tobacco products to carry pictorial warnings that show the ill effects of smoking.

At the press conference, SEATCA’s FCTC Program Director, Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo said that the Philippines has to advocate for bigger, ideally more than 85% graphic warnings as well as standardized tobacco packaging in the future to be at par with the recommendations of the WHO FCTC Article 11. In Southeast Asia, Thailand has 85% PHWs, BruneiLaos and Myanmar apply 75% PHWs, followed by 55% in Cambodia and Malaysia. Philippines,Singapore, and Vietnam require 50%, and Indonesia only 40%.

Pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 183, s. 1993, June is celebrated nationwide as National No Smoking Month. The proclamation extends the observance of World No Tobacco Day which is observed annually on May 31 to a whole month in order to intensify the campaign against smoking by raising public awareness of its ill effects.

In support of the recent World No Tobacco Day 2016 and No smoking Month this June, the Philippine Civil Service Commission (CSC) reiterated its advocacy against smoking within the bureaucracy. The CSC, in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH), released CSC Memorandum Circular No. 13, s. 2016, which encourages all government offices to participate in the various activities lined up for the above celebrations. The circular includes the reiteration of CSC Memorandum Circular No. 17, s. 2009 (“Smoking Prohibition based on 100% Smoke-Free Policy) and the CSC-DOH Joint Memorandum Circular 2010-01 (“protection of the Bureaucracy against Tobacco Industry Interference”), which is considered a landmark policy that protects government affairs from tobacco industry interference. 

The No-smoking Month also seeks to enable the DOH and its partners, to gather support for the Graphic Health Warnings (GHW) Law, which took effect last March 3. Under the law, all cigarette manufacturers are required to replace the colorful packaging of their cigarette packs with pre-approved graphic health warnings that show the adverse effects of cigarette smoking to health. All cigarette manufacturers must observe full compliance with this law by November 4, 2016.

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Photos courtesy of the Department of Health Facebook Page