Smokers urged: Don’t light up during papal visit

By Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 13, 2015 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Smokers have been asked to avoid lighting cigarettes during public events that Pope Francis would attend.

Emer Rojas, president of New Vois of the Philippines (NVAP), a group of cancer survivors, said smokers must be considerate to the millions of people expected to attend the events in Metro Manila and Leyte.

“We are appealing to all smokers not to light up during any of these public events in reverence to the Holy Father and in consideration to the massive crowd, including children, who may be exposed to second-hand smoke,” he said.

Rojas said it is hazardous for non-smokers and children to inhale tobacco smoke.

“Second-hand smoke is as equally dangerous as smoking itself,” he said. “The International Agency on Cancer Research classifies second-hand smoke as a carcinogen, which means that even if you are not smoking but are exposed to tobacco smoke you are also at risk of cancer.” 

Rojas urged authorities to make sure that Republic Act 9211, the Tobacco Control Act, would be enforced during these events.

“We also appeal to our authorities to engage anyone who is seen smoking during any of  these public events and to also show some propriety by not smoking themselves,” he said.

Francis is set to hold mass at the Manila Cathedral before noon on Jan. 16, and then he will meet with several families in the afternoon at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

He will fly to Tacloban City and Palo in Leyte on Jan. 17 to meet survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda.

In the morning of Jan. 18, Francis will hold a dialogue with the youth at the University of Santo Tomas grandstand.

Later in the afternoon, he will celebrate mass at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park in Manila.

Don’t throw garbage

The public was asked to be responsible for the garbage that they produce while Francis is visiting the country.

Aileen Lucero, EcoWaste Coalition coordinator,  said people must refrain from throwing trash on the streets and sites of the itinerary of Francis.

“We appeal to the general public to take the pope’s message to heart and be the first to defend the environment from the throw-away culture that is dirtying our surroundings, wasting the earth’s thinning resources and warming the climate,” she said.

“Without public cooperation, the venues for the papal gatherings, the motorcade route and adjoining areas may quickly turn into instant dumps and toilets as the faithful flock to see the pope.” 

Lucero said no ecological system for waste management will work, particularly in large outdoor assemblies set to take place on Jan. 17 and 18 in Tacloban City and Manila, if the public would not get involved.

Lucero has advised the public to eat at home and avoid eating at the venue to prevent the creation of waste near Tacloban airport and Rizal Park, where a mass will take place, as well as in other venues of papal activities.

“If it cannot be avoided, pack a simple waste-free meal in a reusable container and bring your own water in a reusable jug to avoid buying bottled water or beverage on site,” she said.

Lucero said participants can carry a litter bag in their pockets.

“You can also bring a foldable reusable bag for things that you may want to bring home from the event,” she said.

EcoWaste said the public must not smoke in Rizal Park and other no smoking venues.

“Preventing and reducing waste during the papal activities will yield a number of benefits that will surely elate Pope Francis and Mother Earth,” EcoWaste Coalition said. – With Rhodina Villanueva

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