Press Release | June 2, 2021
Manila, Philippines - The Department of Health (DOH), in partnership with Smoke-Free Philippines, celebrated World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) 2021 through a symposium held last May 31, 2021 with the theme “Co-Op to Quit.” The WNTD 2021 is a global campaign by the World Health Organization (WHO) to help people quit tobacco use.
DOH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said that almost 110,000 Filipinos die every year due to illnesses and complications caused by tobacco smoking. He further stressed that recent studies and evidence revealed that tobacco smokers have a higher risk of contracting severe COVID-19.
The Health Promotion Bureau (HPB) led by Dir Beverly Ho highlighted key health promotive and preventive interventions on tobacco control, namely - the recently signed Administrative Order (AO) No. 2021-0030 which provided the fourth set of graphic health warning templates pursuant to Republic Act No. 10643 or the Graphic Health Warnings Law, the inclusion of the new toll-free DOH Quitline number (1558) in the tobacco packets, and the Health Promotion Playbook on Smoke-Free Environments which highlights health promotion efforts and best practices to promote smoke and vape free communities.
“The DOH continues to develop and implement policies and programs to reduce the number of smokers in the country, one of which is the issuance of AO No. 2021-0031 or the Guidelines on the Implementation of Unified and Stabilized Tobacco Cessation Services at All Levels of Care,” Secretary Duque III stated. He also said that sufficient support from the national down to the community level is needed and should be made available and accessible to help smokers quit.
The symposium concluded with the official launch of the SmokeFree Virtual Challenge 2021 in partnership with Vital Strategies. The challenge encourages both smokers and non-smokers to join the cause by doing any physical activities that they enjoy and taking pictures or videos of it to be posted on social media with hashtags #SmokeFreeVirtualChallenge and #CoopToQuit.
“The SmokeFree virtual challenge aims to help smokers develop a routine that they can do every day to commit to quit and at the same time support implementation and advancement of smoke-free policies locally”, said Mr. Kaloi Garcia of Vital Strategies. The DOH and all its partners in tobacco control are committed to intensify their campaigns and further strengthen partnerships towards a Healthy Pilipinas.
For readers who want to take part in the virtual challenge, kindly visit bit.ly/SmokeFreeVC2021 to sign-up.