Briones to Congress: Protect learners' welfare, institutionalize 'strong' tobacco control policies

Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones has asked members of Congress and policymakers to promote healthy choices among Filipinos learners by institutionalizing strong and comprehensive tobacco control policies.

Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The appeal was made during the Philippine Smoke-free Movement Champions’ Conference on Wednesday, July 28.

“We are using all available platforms to appeal to our legislators, decision-makers, and influencers to help us in protecting the welfare of our learners by institutionalizing policies and creating an environment that is supportive of their health-promoting choices,” she said.

She said such policies will complement the Department of Education’s efforts to keep schools smoke-free and to educate learners about the harmful effects of tobacco use.

“Our schools have always been smoke-free. And we do this not only to protect our learners from second-hand smoke, but also from situations that normalize tobacco use to make it appealing to them,” she said. “But schools can only do so much. Which environments our learners are exposed to when they are not in school also have a great influence on their decisions as to whether to give in to or to reject the temptation to get into smoking,” Briones said.

The conference themed “Building and Celebrating Tobacco Control Champions: Promoting, Defending, and Institutionalizing Smoke-Free Environment Policies” sought to bat for the approval of a comprehensive smoke-free environments law in the 18th Congress.

“We are in a very strategic time to have this legislative measure passed, especially now that we have a President who has repeatedly and publicly expressed support for tobacco control,” Briones said.

She said Congress should step up to institutionalize tobacco control policies, citing that the future of the youth is at stake.

“As repeatedly mentioned by the World Health Organization, the youth are being targeted by the tobacco industry to be their next generation of consumers. Through strong and comprehensive tobacco control policies such as the measures we are advocating today, we can win this battle,” DepEd chief said.

“What we are really talking about are the dreams of our youth that can only be achieved if they grow up healthy and free from the harms of tobacco use,” she added.

The Social Watch Philippines (SWP) organized the conference in partnership with DepEd and the Department of Health (DOH), together with the rest of the Philippine Smoke-Free Movement (PSFM).

Deped had signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with SWP to become an institutional partner of the PSFM.