Baguio vies for DOH’s Red Orchid Award with anti-smoking drive

BAGUIO CITY — Baguio City is hoping to get its first Red Orchid Award from the Department of Health with its strict implementation of “Smoke-Free Baguio” ordinance since May 2017.

The Red Orchid Awards is the DOH’s search among government hospitals, offices, and local government units (LGUs) that implement a 100-percent tobacco-free environment and meeting the quality standards on tobacco prevention and control set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Baguio has banned smoking in public places, in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 26.

The city’s anti-smoking task force has met with the DOH validation team, as the city vies for the Red Orchid Award, it was learned on Monday.

Gaby Keith of the city information office said the validating team was composed of a representative from the DOH central office and officers from a nationally-recognized non-government organization that promotes clean air and is against the use of tobacco products.

Aimed to combat smoking, the “Red Orchid” is the highest award in this search for tobacco-free environment, followed by the the “Pink Orchid” award for the second place and the “White Orchid” award for the third spot.

The criteria for the award are: efforts to implement a 100-percent tobacco-free environment using the WHO’s tobacco-control policies; monitoring of tobacco use and prevention policies; protection of people from tobacco smoke; offer of help to quit tobacco use; warning against the dangers of tobacco; enforcement of bans on tobacco advertising; and raising of taxes on tobacco products.

The city’s anti-smoking task force head, Dr. Donnabel Tubera, also reiterated in an interview with the PNA on Monday that smoking addiction is a lifestyle vice that often causes health problems, but which is curable.

Since Baguio started its Smoke-Free Baguio drive middle of last year, the city’s anti-smoking task force has apprehended over 1,300 violators.

The task force’s goal, Tubera said, is to convince smokers to quit smoking for their own protection and of the others’ health safety.

Aside from the Executive Order and the smoking ban ordinance, the task force is also using the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999, which declares the right of every citizen to breathe clean air, and prohibits smoking inside enclosed public places, including public vehicles and other means of transportation. Pamela Mariz Geminiano/