MANILA — Health advocates from the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP) launched on Tuesday a petition to stop the selling of cigarettes near school premises in Metro Manila.
According to Dr. Maricar Limpin, FCAP Executive Director and PCP Board of Regents member, the petitioners are calling for the stoppage of sales of tobacco products by convenience stores and other similar outlets located near educational institutions.
Dr. Limpin, a pulmonologist, cited that selling of cigarettes by at least three convenience stores located very near school campuses in Metro Manila is a clear violation of Republic Act No. 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003.
“Under Section 10 of R.A. 9211, selling of tobacco products within 100 meters from any point of the perimeter of a school, public playground, or other facility frequented by minors is prohibited,” Limpin said.
The pulmonologist said that the petition can be viewed by clicking www.change.org/Peddling Death.
She added that those who wish to show or express support to the petition may sign in.
According to her, it is an acceptable fact that the young people in the school campuses are becoming targets as smoker replacements by the tobacco companies.
“What we really want here is to stop the peddling,” she said.
She expressed fears that if minors will continue to be lured in buying cigarettes, fatal health consequences can occur and may be destructive on their future.
She also said that what is fearful is that minors as young as 13 to 15 years old may likely develop addiction to smoking because it is during those ages that their brains are not that fully developed into controlling their desires and dispositions given the fact that they are being exposed to accessibility of cigarettes.
She added that as a doctor and as a parent herself, she cannot bear the thought, and perhaps other parents too will agree, that their young children will die of illnesses brought about by exposure to tobacco products which can be bought and accessible near school campuses.
She said that aside from the petition, they are coordinating with the concerned establishments in appealing to stop the selling of cigarettes near school campuses.
She added that they have a complete list of the said establishments in Metro Manila together with corresponding photos and receipts as proof that indeed selling of prohibited tobacco products is happening near school campuses.
She added that if nothing happens with their plea, they will be calling the attention of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to intervene and do its role.
According to Dr. Anthony Leachon, PCP president, what is being done by local government units that are implementing anti-smoking policies and ordinances should be replicated by other LGUs to promote the law and ensure the health concerns of the population.
“If it can be done in Davao City or in other LGUs, there is no reason why it cannot be done in other areas… It is a matter of leadership also and drive to set up a good healthy environment,” said Dr. Leachon.
He added that it is important that the Department of Education (DepEd) also look into the matter and ensure that students are not getting access to the cigarettes being sold in the said establishments.
Dr. Luz Tagunicar, Department of Health (DOH) Supervising Program Officer, said it seems that the violations disregard the health of the young people by putting more weight on the economic consideration or on the profit and income side.
“They need to understand that they are actually ‘selling death’… that they are selling a product that causes illnesses to more than half of the population,” Tagunicar added.
She agreed that DTI as well as concerned LGUs should be doing more their part in the monitoring and ensuring that cigarettes are not accessible by minors.
Tagunicar said that as a way of addressing the advocacy against smoking, DOH has been giving awards and incentives to outstanding LGUs that promote the health campaign.
She noted that through the Red Orchid Award, some LGUs have been recognized, especially on the implementation of best practices in the anti-smoking campaign through programs, policies and ordinances.
Among these LGUs are Davao City, Balanga City, Marikina City, and Iloilo City.