By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
To raise public awareness on the ill effects of smoking, the Department of Education (DepEd) enjoined public elementary and secondary schools nationwide to organize and undertake educational and advocacy campaign activities in line with the 2019 National No Smoking Month observed this June.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in DepEd Memorandum No. 070 series of 2019, announced that DepEd “shall observe” this year’s National No Smoking Month celebration pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 183 series of 1993 or “Declaring the Month of June of Every Year as National No Smoking Month.”
For this year’s celebration, Briones said that DepEd shall focus on promoting the implementation of DepEd Order No. 48 series of 2016 or the “Policy and Guidelines on Comprehensive Tobacco Control” in all schools and DepEd offices.
Related to this, Briones said that DepEd shall conduct “educational and information drive to raise awareness on the harms of tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke, tobacco control policies, and tactics of tobacco industry through creative endeavors, lectures, seminars, and projects involving the participation of students.”
Briones also directed the conduct of advocacy campaign activities such as “promoting the implementation of comprehensive tobacco control policies” and “promoting awareness among stakeholders including parents, visitors in school grounds, and retailers in the 100-meter perimeter of the school.”
Schools and DepEd offices may also conduct awareness-raising activities to “warn against smoking, to promote healthy lifestyles, and to counter the efforts of the tobacco industry’s tactics to circumvent tobacco control measures, to glamorize smoking and to downplay or deny the addictive, harmful nature of tobacco products” and put up signage “indicating that the school or office is a smoke-free zone in prominent and strategic locations within the school and DepEd premises.”
Briones said that the Child Protection Committee (CPC) shall be the focal group that shall “ensure the effective implementation” of the Department’s Comprehensive Tobacco Control Policy at school level. “The CPC may coordinate with other government agencies and NGOs in the conduct of these activities,” she explained.
Regional Offices (ROs), schools division offices (SDOs) and all public elementary, junior and senior high schools are enjoined to organize educational and social activities related to the celebration. Schools may focus their information dissemination activities on the prohibition of smoking among minors; prohibition of smoking in school and government premises; prohibition of selling cigarettes within the 100-meter parameter of schools; prohibition of selling cigarettes to minors everywhere and prohibition among government officials, including schools, to receive any form of donation from tobacco companies.
Briones noted that schools may also “raise awareness on the harms of tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke” as well as on the “tactics of the tobacco industry” such as those that “circumvent tobacco control measures, glamorize smoking, and downplay or deny the addictive, harmful nature of tobacco products.”
Schools, Briones said, may also put up information, education, and communication (IEC) materials on tobacco control in conspicuous places around the school compound such as no smoking signs and signs bearing: “This is a smoke-free zone.”
Other suggested activities to be conducted schools include “creative endeavors, lectures, seminars, and projects involving the participation of the students such as parade, poster-making contest and similar activities and coordination with other government agencies and non-government organizations in the conduct of advocacy activities within the schools and communities – among others.