DepEd: Make every day ‘No Tobacco Day’ inside and outside schools

June 3, 2017

PASIG CITY, June 3, 2017 – In time for the celebration of the World No Tobacco Day, the Department of Education (DepEd) reminded all schools and DepEd offices nationwide to make every day, not only May 31, a ‘No Tobacco Day.’
DepEd Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Alberto Muyot, reminded schools and DepEd offices to ensure that DepEd Order (DO) No. 48, s. 2016, or the Policy and Guidelines on Comprehensive Tobacco Control, is observed all year round.
“The purpose of the World No Tobacco Day should be carried out every day of the year. Schools and DepEd offices can ensure this by strictly enforcing the policies and faithfully implementing the strategies laid out in DO 48, s. 2016,” Muyot said in his message read during a press conference held at Rizal High School, Pasig City on May 31, 2017.
The Department Order mandates all schools, through the Child Protection Committee (CPC), to monitor compliance with and report violations not only of the absolute smoking ban in school premises, but also of tobacco control measures for stores outside the schools, such as the ban on the sale and advertising of tobacco products in and within the 100-meter perimeter of school premises.
According to the Department Order, the CPC shall serve as the focal group that will prepare compliance or violation reports and collaborate with local government units and partners to ensure that action is taken on violations.
This is consistent with the recently issued Executive Order (EO) No. 26, which provides for the establishment of smoke-free environments in public and enclosed places, and enjoins local governments to form a local Smoke-Free Task Force. Based on the EO, it is the duty and obligation of school principals to report to the nearest Smoke-Free Task Force any tobacco product selling, advertising, and/or promotion located within 100 meters from the school’s perimeter.
The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) expressed support to DepEd in ensuring that stores near schools within Metro Manila do not sell tobacco products. MMDA’s Health, Public Safety and Environmental Protection Office personnel go to stores within the 100-meter perimeter of schools in Metro Manila to educate store owners on the law that prohibits them from selling cigarettes, and to report violations to the local governments concerned.
In addition to enforcing the ban on smoking and selling of tobacco products, the CPC is also mandated by DO 48 to monitor compliance with and report violations of the ban on tobacco sponsorships of school activities, as well as the prohibition on public officials against receiving any form of contribution directly or indirectly from the tobacco industry. The Department Order also facilitates measures for the protection of the Department against tobacco industry interference or the tactics utilized by the tobacco industry to interfere with the implementation of tobacco control policies.
Based on DO 48, all Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) entered into by DepEd with donors and partners shall include a provision stating full commitment of all parties concerned to tobacco control implementation, and stipulating that the said donor or partner does not represent the interests of or receive funding from the tobacco industry.
“For the past year, we have been exerting efforts to disseminate information about this requirement for DepEd’s memoranda with partners. Beginning this school year, we shall ensure that this provision is included in all memoranda from the Central Office down to our schools,” Bureau of Learner Support Services Assistant Director Dr. Ella Cecilia Naliponguit said.
The Civil Service Commission (CSC) commended DepEd’s comprehensive tobacco control policy, which have also been based on CSC’s issuances on smoking prohibition in all areas of government premises, and on the protection of the bureaucracy against tobacco industry interference.
“This requirement of DepEd to include in all its memoranda a declaration from partners that they have no dealings with the tobacco industry is a good safeguard from administrative accountability for DepEd personnel, and is also a good practice that other government agencies may want to consider adapting,” said CSC Assistant Commissioner Ariel Ronquillo.
CSC-DOH Joint Memorandum Circular 2010-01 prohibits public officials and employees from demanding or receiving any contribution from the tobacco industry, while CSC Memorandum Circular No. 17, s. 2009 states that smoking shall be absolutely prohibited in or on the premises, buildings, and grounds of government agencies that provide education services.
Aside from setting prohibitions, the Department Order also adopts several tobacco control strategies such as: conducting information, education, communication, and capacity-building activities on tobacco control; establishing partnerships for tobacco control; and making brief tobacco interventions available and accessible to students and personnel in need of such services.
Observed around the world every May 31, the World No Tobacco Day aims to increase public awareness of the dangers of tobacco use, the tactics of the tobacco industry, and the policies and measures of governments on tobacco control. This year’s theme, “Tobacco- A Threat to Development,” focuses on the threats that the tobacco industry poses to the sustainable development of all countries.