The World Health Organization (WHO) recently recognized Senator Pia Cayetano and four other global public health champions from the Western Pacific Region for advocating tobacco control and championing laws, programs and projects that combat smoking, vapes and heated tobacco products.
The Department of Health confirmed over the weekend that Cayetano was “acknowledged for her dedicated advocacy in promoting the global campaign against tobacco.”
Every year, WHO recognizes individuals and organizations in each region for their important contributions to tobacco control with the WHO Director-General Special Recognition and World No Tobacco Day awards.
“Senator Cayetano has long been a leader and advocate for strengthening tobacco control efforts in the Philippines. The senator’s work has focused on preserving the regulatory authority of the Food and Drug Administration and reducing the affordability and accessibility (for youths) of tobacco products,” the WHO said in a news release.
In 2014, the senator sponsored the Graphic Health Warning bill which was signed into law as Republic Act 10643. She also fought for the Sin Tax Reform Act of 2012 (Republic Act 10351) which aims to raise additional revenues for health care while curbing harmful vices, especially among youth.
The other awardees were the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of Cambodia for remarkable leadership in implementing effective tobacco control measures; Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Fiji Revenue and Customs Services and Fiji Police Force for leading significant improvements in capacity to enforce tobacco control laws at both subnational and national levels through strengthened surveillance and investigation even amid the Covid-19 pandemic; Cultural and Social Committee of the National Assembly of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic for its commitment to protect its people from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke; and the Vanuatu Ministry of Health for its crucial role in advocating the increase of over 50 percent in excise taxes on tobacco products, along with the prohibition of heated tobacco products, electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems.
The World No Tobacco Day on Wednesday will have the theme “Grow food, not tobacco” and will encourage governments to end tobacco growing subsidies and use the savings to support farmers to switch to more sustainable crops that improve food security and nutrition.
The campaign will raise awareness in tobacco farming communities about the benefits of moving away from tobacco and growing sustainable crops; support efforts to combat desertification and environmental degradation by decreasing tobacco farming; and expose industry efforts to obstruct sustainable livelihoods work. (PNA)