The World Health Organization (WHO) has named Iloilo City as one of the recipients of the 2019 World No Tobacco Day Awards for its outstanding work in tobacco control.
In a statement on Thursday, the WHO Western Pacific region recognized Iloilo, a highly-urbanized city of Western Visayas region, for providing cessation services and protecting minors from the harmful effects of tobacco use.
The Iloilo City government, according to WHO, “ran an intensive campaign encouraging smokers” to quit with the help of the city’s Quitline and cessation services located inside its 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,” it added.
The international health body also lauded the local government’s implementation of a Non-Smoker Preferential Policy in terms of the hiring of city government employees and the introduction of additional tax for the sale of cigarettes, alongside increased penalties for violations.
Other recipients of the 2019 World No Tobacco Day Awards include the 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.
WHO Western Region recognized Xi’an for building a smoke-free city; Hong Kong for its multipronged approach; Guam’s group for focusing on taxes and legislation; and, Niue Ministry of Social Services for having the strongest legislation against tobacco in the region.
Citing the awardees as models for the region, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific Takeshi Kasai 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,” Kasai said.
He reported that one in four adults in the region is a smoker, millions are exposed to harmful second-hand smoke and tobacco kills over half of its users.
“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,” he added.
Every 31st of May, WHO and its global partners celebrate World No Tobacco Day to increase awareness of the negative impact of tobacco on the people’s health and the country’s economy, to advocate effective policies in reducing tobacco consumption, and to engage stakeholders across multiple sectors in the fight for tobacco control.
The organization also honors individuals or organizations in each of its six regions for exceptional tobacco control achievements every year. (By Ma. Teresa Montemayor, PNA)