Dear Mayor Magalong,
We, the civil society organizations with advocacies on – public health, environmental protection, children’s rights, and the youth – and other concerned individuals, appeal to the Honorable Mayor of Baguio City to continuously implement Ordinance No.34-2017 (The
Smoke-free Baguio Ordinance of 2017) to save countless lives and put an end to the societal harms that tobacco use brings to the city.
We were recently informed via news reports that Baguio’s Smoke-Free Ordinance was being challenged by the tobacco industry and its allied groups. We view with deep concern these latest attempts of the industry to undermine the efforts and reverse the gains of the
Baguio City Government and City Council to stem the tide of deaths, sickness, and injuries that tobacco products inflict on the people of Baguio and the citizens of this country.
Data from the Health Services Office showed that 7,701 patients had died between 2014 to 2018 due to tobacco-related diseases in Baguio. This translates to four deaths per day the said five-year period.
The Health Services Office further disclosed that during the same period, Baguio health centers had treated 129,692 patients ailing from diseases attributed to smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, which incurs the city a significant amount of money as it
shoulders a sizeable portion of the patients’ medical fees that could have been utilized for the city’s other public health and social service programs.
These deaths, diseases, and injuries can be prevented through the adoption of inexpensive and effective tobacco control measures like the city’s Smoke-free Ordinance.
Aside from being hailed as one of the trailblazers in a smoke-free environment, the Smoke-free Ordinance of Baguio is expected to the smoking prevalence in the City. This will directly translate to saving people in Baguio from life-long tobacco addiction that will only
lead to debilitating diseases and premature death.
We submit that there is no compelling reason for the City Council to defer or amend the ordinance. The argument that retailers suffer from profit losses because of the implementation of ordinance, even if it were true, cannot be considered over and above the general welfare of the people in Baguio. Several local governments in the Philippines,including Davao City and Iloilo City, have declared to be absolutely smoke-free and these cities continue to progress. Surely, the health of the people in Baguio, particularly the young children and adolescents attending schools in Baguio, is far more important than the economic interest of few retailers. Needless to state, that these retailers do not exclusively get their profit from selling tobacco products.
In countless jurisdictions, here and abroad, smoke-free environments are known to save lives, reduce socio-economic burden, and provide a healthy environment to all.
In light of the e concerns, we respectfully urge the Honorable Mayor as the primary defender of the peoples’ rights, to notify the City Council that amending Ordinance No. 34- 2017 is not part of his legislative agenda, and that he exercises veto power over any legislative action that will diminish the existing protection provided in the ordinance.
Being the center of education of the North where countless children and adolescents study and live, we plead that you continuously and vigorously create a healthful environment by preventing them from being exposed to all forms of vices, particularly tobacco use. It is constitutionally mandated and provided for specifically in the Local Government Code that local chief executives should promote the general welfare of the people. It is time that we implement this duly passed Smoke-free Ordinance which is strongly supported by the general public.
We fully believe that the City Mayor will uphold the interest of the people as he had shown
numerous times in the past, even at the face of his own great peril and risk.
Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA)
Social Watch Philippines (SWP)
Philippine Legislators' Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD)
Philippine Cancer Society
Philippine Pediatric Society
Rural Poor Institute For Land And Human Rights Services (RIGHTS)
Aktibong Kilusan Tungo sa Iisang Bayan (AKTIB)
WomanHealth Philippines, Inc.
Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) Student Organizations
PUP Students Party for Equality and Advancement of Knowledge
PUP Sentral na Konseho ng mga Mag-aaral
Millennials PH (MPH) and its allied organizations
EARIST – Public Administration Society
Katipunan ng Kabataan – San Jose Delmonte
Barangay San Luis Youth Organization