smoking in public places in Albay.
Over the week, about 1,200 members of the Girl Scout of the
Philippines (GSP) Albay Council showed up in government buildings,
roadsides, malls, schools campuses and public parks, markets and
conveyances here to impart their messages of disapproval to the
presence of tobacco-hooked individuals.
The girls, aged 10 to 16 years old, were in the city as participants
in the GSP provincial encampment on the theme "Girl Scouts Save the
Planet" also in support of the "war" being waged by the Smoke-Free
Albay Network (SFAN) against cigarette smoking in public places as
part of the province's initiatives towards public health though a
SFAN is a local civil society group composed of professionals,
community leaders, government workers, politicians and students
spearheading an advocacy against cigarette smoking in the province.
Scout Jessica (not her real name), 15, of Albay High School in Daraga
town, said she joined the campaign not only as a girl scout but as
part of her personal commitment against smoking.
"Even a mere look at a smoker doing his vice makes me sick. Smelling
cigarette smoke for me triggers an attack of excessive cough and
difficulty of breathing," she said as she confided being an asthmatic.
"At home, nobody in the family smokes and when a visitor comes around
with a lighted cigarette, we children would scamper to 'safety' and
our parents attending to him cover their noses to avoid inhaling the
smoke. They never offer an ashtray as we at home do not have any.
Those gestures are short of telling visitors that smokers are not
welcome," Jessica added.
City vice-mayor Patricia Alsua, herself a senior GSP member and an
anti-smoking campaigner, said it was the idea of the girls to go out
of the campsite to express their support to Albay's smoke-free
province drive by way of posting "No Smoking" stickers in buses,
jeepneys, tricycles, terminals and waiting sheds. The stickers were
provided by SFAN and the city government.
Other girl scouts went around the city hall and other public offices
looking for ash trays and encouraged its owners to put them away if
not throw them in the garbage cans explaining that Civil Service
Commission (CSC) Memorandum Circular No. 17 Series of 2009 and
Department of Interior and Local Government Circular No. 2011-15
prohibiting ashtrays in government offices.
Another group used a public address system in appealing to smokers to
give up the deadly vice and informing them that if they needed help,
they are very much welcome to be enrolled in a cessation program being
offered by the SFAN.
Alsua said the city government here itself was a smoke-free advocate
being one of the four local government units (LGUs) in Albay that
enacted ordinances against smoking in public places. The other LGUs
are Tabaco City, the municipality of Daraga and Legazpi City.
The SFAN had been calling on the 12 other Albay LGUs to follow suit
even as the provincial legislative board is finalizing the legislation
of the Smoke-Free Albay ordinance in line with the goal of the
Department of Health (DOH) for a smoke free environment.
The campaign was started in the province by the city government of
Legazpi through its Revised Smoke-Free Ordinance enacted in 2009 which
is now being strictly enforced in all its public places earning for
the city two Red Orchid Awards given by the DOH in a row of two years,
including this year.
The award is being given yearly by the health department in
recognition of LGUs' successful implementations of anti-smoking
programs in their localities.
SFAN secretary-general Rose Olarte-Orbita said the young girl scouts
were able to muster commitments from smokers that they are giving up