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MMDA urges 17 cities, towns to comply with smoking ordinances with WHO-FCTC

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By Martin Sadongdong

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Saturday urged the 17 cities and municipalities of Metro Manila to comply their respective smoking ordinances with the World Health Organization-Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) in order to curb the rising global epidemic on tobacco use.

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“We have to stand our grounds despite the struggles in implementing a smoke-free Metropolitan Manila,” said MMDA chairman Danilo Lim in a message read by MMDA Special Assistant for Planning Retired General Jose Campo during a smoke-free forum held at the agency’s auditorium in Makati City.

The WHO-FCTC, according to its website, is developed in response to the “globalization of tobacco epidemic.” It is also an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health.

Health experts estimate that about 150,000 Filipinos die every year or around 400 every day from smoking.

Studies conducted by various health groups also revealed that the Philippines has one of the cheapest prices of cigarettes in the world compared to other countries, with one pack costing less than a dollar.

With the current situation, the possible rise in the number of Filipino smokers was the primary concern of various health groups, citing a study by the National Academy of Science and Technology that said an estimated 200,000 Filipinos are likely to become smokers by 2018.

Lim said continued campaign versus smoking is a must in order to protect the public, especially the youth, from its dangers.

Currently, only four cities and a municipality in Metro Manila have been regarded as being compliant with WHO-FCTC: Caloocan City, San Juan City, Muntinlupa City, Mandaluyong City and Municipality of Pateros.

For her part, Loida Alzona, head of the MMDA Health, Public Safety and Environmental Protection Office (HPSEPO), reiterated that the goal is to make whole Metro Manila compliant with the WHO-FCTC to promote better health and to lessen the cases of smoking-related diseases.

“The purpose of the smoke-free forum is to highlight the experiences of the local government units in Metro Manila relative to the passage and implementation of tobacco control policies compliant with FCTC,” she said.

The MMDA has implemented a “no smoking” policy in public places and provides sustained technical assistance to the LGUs in policy development, capacity-building, communication strategies, and compliance monitoring.

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