By Analou De Vera
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized Iloilo City as one of the recipients of the World No Tobacco Day Awards 2019 for its contribution to tobacco control.
The WHO-Western Pacific Region lauded the Iloilo City local government’s cessation services and its efforts in protecting minors on the ill-effects of tobacco.
The WHO recognized the local government’s “intensive campaign” that encourages smokers to quit with the “help of the city’s Quitline and cessation services at health centers.”
“The government prohibits the sale of tobacco products to minors as well as near schools and other places frequented by minors. It has also enacted bans on vaping and shisha and on establishing designated smoking areas.
“An additional tax was introduced for the sale of cigarettes, alongside increased penalties for violations,” the WHO said in a statement.
“An additional tax was introduced for the sale of cigarettes, alongside increased penalties for violations. The government also implemented a Non-Smoker Preferential Policy to inform the hiring of city government employees,” the organization furthered.
The other awardees include Xi’an Municipal People’s Government in China; the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; the Guam Non-Communicable Disease Consortium Tobacco Control Action Team; and the Niue Ministry of Social Services.
“I’m delighted to see the strong action our awardees are taking to control tobacco – from higher taxes to quit programmes to smoke-free areas. The results of their activities are even more encouraging: smoking rates are decreasing in many of these places, as are diseases caused by tobacco such as lung cancer,” said WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Dr. Takeshi Kasai.
Kasai has urged all government organizations, businesses, and communities “to take strong steps to control tobacco and foster healthier, more productive populations.”
“We know what we need to do to reduce tobacco use and help smokers quit, and these organizations are setting a stellar example,” he said.
To note, the World No Tobacco Day is being celebrated every May 31st. It aims to create awareness on the negative impact of tobacco use, to advocate effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption, and to engage stakeholders across multiple sectors in the fight for tobacco control.