1 July 2016, Manila – The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) today welcomed the Philippine Department of Education’s (DepEd) directive, released 28 June, protecting school children from the harms of tobacco use and the snares of the tobacco industry.
Department Order 48 s2016: Policy and Guidelines on Comprehensive Tobacco Controlprescribes rules on how parents, teachers, and school officials of private and public schools can facilitate tobacco control enforcement, such as the ban on selling and advertising tobacco within 100-meters of school perimeters and prevent tobacco industry’s CSR activities.
The policy directs school officials with the assistance of the Parent Teacher Associations to enforce the guidelines through the monitoring and reporting mechanisms of the Child Protection Committee that was established to prevent child abuses under the DepEd’s Child Protection Policy. School officials are required to monitor for violations and report to local governments accordingly to ensure that the school children are not exposed to tobacco products, its advertisements and marketing strategies, and the tobacco industry’s so-called CSR, that will lure them into a lifelong addiction.
“With this DepEd directive and much needed support from the school community now is a good time to stand against the tobacco industry,” said Ms. Bungon Ritthiphakdee, Executive Director of SEATCA.
In the World Health Organization (WHO) Report “Youth and Tobacco in the Western Pacific Region: Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) 2005-2014, the Philippines ranks 15th out of the 22 countries surveyed with 13.7 percent of those aged 13 to 15 years old using tobacco products. The Philippines was also found to have an accessibility rate of 37.3 percent, putting it in the 14th place among the 15 countries with available estimates. “The WHO report will be a good baseline to monitor the impact of this guidelines,” Ms. Ritthiphakdee added.
“Schools are in a uniquely powerful position to reduce the serious harms of smoking. Children spend almost a third of their waking time in school. Preventing children from using tobacco is imperative in combating the tobacco epidemic. This Philippine policy is a noteworthy example to all the countries in the Southeast Asian region on creating and strengthening tobacco-free policies in accordance with various lifesaving provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC),” said Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, SEATCA’s FCTC Program Director.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 80,000 and 100,000 children worldwide start smoking every day – roughly half of whom live in Asia. On average, smokers in the Southeast Asian region started smoking before the age 20. Because of the addictive power of nicotine, children who start smoking at a young age end up bringing the habit into adulthood.
Wendell C Balderas, Media and Communications Officer – SEATCA
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