Sarangani’s smoke-free beaches, the first in Mindanao

3 November 2023

By Catherine Apelacio, Philippines Information Agency

KIAMBA, Sarangani (PIA) — Mayor George Falgui on Tuesday, October 31, declared Kiamba and all of its beaches smoke- and vape-free, making this municipality in Sarangani the first in Mindanao to declare.

Falgui said that he wished for his municipality to be smoke-free to protect the health of his constituents, especially those who are non-smokers, from tobacco-related diseases.

He then urged those who were smoking to stop already, saying categorically no to vaping because it “is still synthetic and has the same ill effects as real cigarettes.”

“I have witnessed firsthand how a smoke-free life can change you for the better, and I am proud that Kiamba is taking a significant step towards a healthier and cleaner environment by banning smoking and vaping in public areas,” he said.

The town’s declaration is in line with the Department of Health’s (DOH) campaign to create a smoke-free community in the country.

Kaloi Garcia, senior communications manager of Vital Strategies, a global public health organization and a staunch advocate for smoke-free Philippines, hailed the launching of Kiamba’s beaches as the first smoke-free in Mindanao, commending Mayor Falgui for his willpower to declare not just its beaches but the whole of Kiamba.

Kiamba also received the DOH-led Red Orchid Award Hall of Fame, an incentive program recognizing local government units, government agencies, and hospitals that actively implement the 100% tobacco-free policy pursuant to DOH Administrative Order No. 10, among other related policies.

Provincial DOH’s Development Management Officer, Jenelyn Ellie Panizales-Ventura, disclosed that Sarangani’s local government units, government offices, and district hospitals had all been recognized with the Red Orchid Award.

“In fact, some of them were even inducted into the hall of fame for consistently sustaining their place for three consecutive award ceremonies,” Ventura said.

She pledged to help the municipal government revisit its ordinance on no smoking and have it thoroughly reviewed.  

“There might be provisions [in the ordinance] that have already become outdated, so we need to modify them,” she said.

She also pointed out that sustaining the declaration of Kiamba as smoke-free was not that difficult, as it only needed the “strengthening of its ordinance, most especially the enforcement, penalty, and reward” aspects of the local statute.

Garcia, reinforcing Ventura’s statement, added that another way to sustain Kiamba’s initiative is “by incentivizing the local government units” for their efforts to implement measures needed for the program to thrive.

The 2021 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), a global standard to monitor adult tobacco use and track down key tobacco control indicators, shows that 14.4 million adults, or 18.5% of the population, smoke tobacco, with 33.3% of men and 3.7% of women.

The survey further says that 13.5 million adults, or 17.4% of people, smoke manufactured cigarettes, comprising 31.5% of men and 3.2% of women.

In 2021, the Philippine Statistics Authority, in collaboration with the DOH, carried out the GATS in the country as a household survey for individuals ages 15 and above. (CTA – PIA SarGen)