Child leaders push for stronger ban on smoking
“I conducted a little experiment,” David, 18, shared. “I sent one of my friends (a minor) to buy three cigarette sticks. He didn’t know what brand to buy but the vendor offered him his favorite cigarette brand. The vendor who was supposed to correct him even encouraged him to smoke!”
Selling tobacco to minors is a criminal offense in the Philippines as stipulated in Republic Act 9211. However, in far-flung and poor areas, the law is either lenient or ignored.
David along with other child leaders who attended World Vision’s workshop on Communications for Development (C4D) identified smoking as one of the common norms that have negative effects on the children and youth in their villages. C4D is a World Vision activity where children learn community issues that affect them through photos and videos.
Another C4D participant, Daniel, shared, “Local stores sell cigarettes to everyone regardless of gender and age because it’s an additional profit. As one store owner puts it, ‘We sell cigarettes to minors because we need to support our family’. Is that a just reason to ruin a youth’s life?”
Children who saw adults smoking are persuaded to smoke as well. “We observed that teenagers smoke not just because of peer pressure but also because of lack of discipline and guidance from their parents,” Daniel,16, added.
The Philippines is one of the many countries with high prevalence of smokers at 15.9 million. The World Health Organization reported that “Around 860 million adult smokers live in low- and middle-income countries. Many studies have shown that in the poorest households, spending on tobacco products often represents more than 10% of total household expenditure – meaning less money for food, education and healthcare.”
Ban smoking, protect the children
In a series of photos, David, Daniel and other child leaders showed the impact of smoking to children and how easy it is to buy cigarettes in their community.
The child leaders presented the photos to government authorities during the Global Week of Action, an annual World Vision advocacy event where children express the needed change in their communities. They persuaded local government officials for a stricter ban on selling cigarettes to minors.
The dialogue with local officials helped result to the mayor passing Resolution 798-2015, which strictly implements and prohibits selling of liquors and cigarettes to minors. Violators will be fined and, worse, imprisoned.
“There is a big improvement after that,” David said. “Youth can’t buy cigarettes and stores are now putting signs that they don’t sell cigarettes to minors.”
The child leaders were happy. Annie Parcero, World Vision staff, said, “The dialogue these child leaders held with their local government officials opened their eyes that they can do something for their community.”World Vision/April 3, 2018
World Vision is a global Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.