June 2, 2021 – In time for the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), the Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday officially joined the Philippine Smoke-Free Movement (PSFM) of the Social Watch Philippines (SWP) to further champion the advocacy of a smoke-free Philippines among DepEd personnel and learners.
The PSFM is a multi-sectoral and disciplinary social advocacy and legislative platform of SWP that aims to carry legislative and executive actions in furtherance and strengthening of tobacco-control measures to protect the children and youth, and other vulnerable sectors of society.
“Responsibilidad namin [sa DepEd] ang 26-million namga bata at saka halos isang milyong teachers. It’s more than just banning smoking [and] vaping in our premises so we also have to educate our learners,” Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said during the ceremonial Memorandum of Agreement signing.
“Importante itong partnership so sana. Itong partnership na ito ay ipagpatuloy natin. Maging fruitful at ma-fulfill natin ‘yong ambisyon sa buhay na maging 100-percent smoke-free ang lahat ng mga opisina, [at] ang mgaeskwelahan,” she added.
The PSFM will also carry out programs to include and highlight a smoke-free environment as a significant provision in the proposed ‘New Normal for the Workplace and Public Spaces Act of 2020’.
“This partnership will strengthen both parties’ mechanisms and resources to achieve 100-percent smoke-free schools, homes, and communities by bolstering advertisements against smoking and by the removal of indoor designated cigarette, vapes, and e-cigarette smoking areas,” shared Ms. Jessica Cantos of SWP.
In addition, the Department will fortify the implementation of DepEd Order No. 48, s. 2016 or the Policy and Guidelines on Comprehensive Tobacco Control and Department Order No. 42, s. 2012 or the Child Protection Policy through the institutionalization of Tobacco-Free Universities and Schools (TOFUS).
DO 48, s. 2016 specifically identifies Child Protection Committees as the focal persons in charge of tobacco control at the school level.
“Partnership, such as this one we are formalizing today, is much needed to support their aggressive campaign. It is the bigger goal to create a generation that is free from tobacco and second-hand smoke, and it begins with educating our youth and raising their awareness of the realities of tobacco use,” Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del Pascua said.
DepEd and SWP will also work together in conducting continuous public information drive on the dangers of second and third-hand smoke and developing learning resources on comprehensive tobacco control and smoke-free environments for use at all levels, aligned with the K to 12 Curriculum.
DepEd also participated in the various programs of the WNTD celebration, including the Launch of the PUP’s Tobacco-Free University and Schools; Itanong Kay Dokof DOH, and ImagineLaw; Leaving Our Vices Behind of PUP; and Youth Against Smoking of SDSN Youth Philippines Coalition.
The comprehensive tobacco control program is a support program under the Oplan Kalusugan sa DepEd, which is the convergence of DepEd’s school health and nutrition programs.