The World Health Organization (WHO) recognized the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their shared achievements in enforcing and advancing tobacco control measures in the country.

Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative to the Philippines, accorded the recognition to both Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III and FDA Director-General Rolando Enrique D. Domingo who led policy changes to regulate tobacco products and e-cigarettes while implementing nationwide campaigns to help tobacco users quit.

Dr. Abeyasinghe also lauded the joint efforts of the DOH and FDA in continuously improving tobacco control in the country, even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those cited were
(1) the revised policies on taxation of tobacco and other sin products, which helped create additional funding for the implementation of Universal Health Care (UHC), (2) the requirement of graphic health warnings on electronic nicotine delivery systems and heated tobacco products,
(3) the support of additional protocols imposed to ban smoking in public places, (4) the creation of designated smoking areas while enforcing the health protocols required during the pandemic,
(5) the initiative to make the national quitline toll-free, and (6) the scaling up of virtual cessation training modules.

The DOH and the FDA expressed their commitment to continue advancing policies and interventions on tobacco control.

“Our tobacco control measures have always prioritized the health of Filipinos. We hope more Filipinos choose a healthy lifestyle especially with the COVID-19 pandemic”, said FDA Director-General Rolando Enrique D. Domingo in his message of acceptance.

“Through this award, we will continue to fight for the right to health of Filipinos. Let us all work together to promote a healthy lifestyle for our kababayan,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III underscored.