BONTOC, Mountain Province – Mountain Province was recently awarded the national Red Orchid Award (ROA) 2017 for its massive and comprehensive efforts to implement a 100% Tobacco-Free Environment.
This is the highest award given by the Department of Health (DOH) to local government units, government offices or government hospitals nationwide for their initiatives and efforts in smoke-free campaigns. The Red Orchid Awards was conceptualized to combat tobacco use and to work for a tobacco-free environment. Researchers identified tobacco as the major contributor in cardio-vascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes and Cancer.
Joining the Search for 100% Smoke-Free Environment for the first time, the Provincial Government of Mountain Province made it to the Red Orchid Awards under the Local Government Units Category.
Bontoc General Hospital is also a Red Orchid Awardee under the Government Hospital Category and the Provincial Health Office is a Red Orchid Awardee and made it to the Hall of Fame for having been an awardee for three consecutive years.
Bauko Local Government Unit was bestowed the Red Orchid Award under the Municipal Local Government Units Category and Sabangan Municipal Police Station (MPS) received the Red Orchid Award under the Government Office Category.
As awardees, they were given a Plaque of Recognition and a Certificate of Recognition for their efforts in promoting and protecting the right to health of the people. Aside from this, the Bauko LGU received a check amounting to Php100,000.00 for implementing the 100% Tobacco-Free in the municipality.
Other awardees from the Cordillera region are Lamut LGU, Hungduan LGU, Sablan LGU, La Trinidad LGU, Aguinaldo People’s Hospital, Panopdopan District Hospital, Potia District Hospital, Hungduan Municipal Police Station, Northern Benguet District Hospital, Atok District Hospital, Dennis Molintas District Hospital, Baguio City Jail- Female Dorm and Civil Service Commission – Cordillera Administrative Region (CSC-CAR).
The DOH Red Orchid Awards winners were judged based on the strength of comprehensive efforts to implement a 100% Tobacco-Free Environment using the World Health Organization (WHO) MPOWER initiative. MPOWER is an acronym that denotes the six proven tobacco control policies to include the (1) Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies; (2) Protect people from tobacco smoke; (3) Offer help to quit tobacco use; (4) Warn against the dangers of tobacco; (5) Enforce bans on tobacco advertising; and (6) Raise taxes on tobacco.
Governor Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr. who personally received the award for Mountain Province, in an interview, expressed his gratitude to those who have worked and who have been supportive of the provincial government’s anti-smoking campaign. He also commended those smokers who quitted from smoking.
The governor mentioned that the provincial government is doing its share in support to the concerted anti-smoking drive of the national government and its agencies concerned.
He recalled that when he was still the Vice Governor in 2015, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) passed Provincial Ordinance No. 218, “An ordinance prohibiting smoking within provincial government offices and its premises and providing penalties for violation thereof.” It aims to promote a healthful working environment, safeguard public health and ensure the well-being of all employees and their clients, protecting them from the harmful effects of smoking.
The governor further said that part of the province’s anti-smoking program is a smoking cessation clinic at the Provincial Health Office (PHO) that welcomes and offers needed support to smokers who want to quit and are experiencing difficulty quitting. Manned by health workers who assure confidential records of their clients, interested to avail of the services free of charge may visit the PHO from Monday to Friday at 8:00 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon. Smoking cessation refers techniques such motivation, advice and guidance, and counselling to encourage and help smokers stop using tobacco and avoid a relapse.
With this ordinance and continuous anti-smoking advocacies of the provincial government and other stakeholders, the governor expressed hope that more smokers will stop the habit as smoking does not only endanger the life of the smoker but the people around him or her.
Provincial Administrator Amador P. Batay-an who chairs the Provincial Anti-Smoking Task Force (PASTF) mentioned that the award received by the province is a challenge not only to the task force in the enforcement of the Provincial Ordinance No. 218, but to everyone in maintaining a smoke-free environment. With this, Batay-an solicited the cooperation of everybody of the government’s anti-smoking advocacy.
By Alpine L. Killa