Community task force holds pioneering smoke-free gab

BAGUIO CITY – The Community Smoke-Free Task Force of Aurora Hill conducted the first ever barangay forum on Ordinance No. 34-2017 or the Smoke-Free Baguio City Ordinance last March 31 hosted by Lopez Jaena, one of the city's two model barangays in the implementation of the smoke-free campaign.

The conference dubbed "Kapihan sa Barangay" aimed to further enlighten residents and deputized enforcers in the Aurora Hill-Quirino Hill health district on the provisions of the ordinance and to identify and find solutions to the issues arising from the implementation of the measure.

Members of the Baguio City Smoke-Free Task Force led by Councilor Joel Alangsab, Smoke-Free Project Team Leader Cecille Agpawa, Smoke-Free Philippines/Vital Strategies Communication Manager Carlos Garcia, Health Service Office Aurora Hill-Quirino Hill Medical Officer Dr. Marie Therese Sumbello and Police Station 6 Commander P/Capt. Luis Dangatan Jr. presented the status and prospects of the campaign.

Lopez Jaena barangay captain Carlos Asiatico related his experience and transformation from being a chain smoker back in the 70s to 80s to a staunch anti-smoking advocate barangay leader of today.

His barangay shares with DPS barangay the feat as the first model barangays for their exemplary performance of their smoke-free functions.

Alangsab stressed the need to establish more community task forces and dared barangay officials to become tobacco and vape-free advocates for the sake of the health of the barangay constituents.

In an open forum, members of the community composed of barangay officials and members of the barangay peace and order action teams and representatives from the barangay business, transport and senior citizens groups took the opportunity to clarify the provisions of the ordinance to guide them in the more effective implementation of the measure.

Apart from Asiatico, the other barangay heads present were punong barangays Anselm Tao-iy of West Quirino Hill, Teresita Vara of North Central Aurora Hill, Tess Pacleb of South Central Aurora Hill, Federico Yumul of West Modernsite, among others.

Recently, the Smoke-Free Task Force lauded enthusiasm and dedication of the deputized barangay officials in the campaign which Dr. Donnabel Tubera, tobacco control officer of the City Health Services Office, said is key to achieving the campaign's ultimate goal of making tobacco control programs in the city sustainable.

In October last year, Mayor Domogan commissioned the 128 barangays through their deputized smoke-free point persons to become part of the 16 community task forces to act as enforcers in an effort to decentralize the implementation of the smoke-free ordinance.

Among the duties of the task forces are to receive, review and process reports and complaints and notify deputized members to validate reports; inspect and monitor compliance of all places covered by the Ordinance, check the appropriateness of the designated smoking areas and recommend the approval, suspension or revocation of licenses or permits and closure of non-compliant establishments; conduct educational awareness campaigns on the ordinance, ill effects of smoking and exposure to second hand smoke and smoking cessation program; and inspect the presence of appropriate Smoke-Free signages. – Aileen P. Refuerzo

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