This is a smoke-free area.
This is what the pupils of Integrated Laboratory School (ILS) Elementary Department of Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) wants to convey…and yes, they literally wear the message in the midst.
On a regular Friday, the pupils of ILS – Elementary Department wear their Physical Education (PE) shirts that bear the design of a smoke-free campaign.
In an interview with the Research Development and Evaluation Center (RDEC) Dean, Dr. Chona Q. Sarmiento who first conceptualized the idea of having the pupils wear their PE shirts with a smoke-free campaign back in 2008, said “This is so far one of the best practices in the university with regard to the strong push for a smoke-free environment.”
It was recalled that the move for a smoke-free environment was first undertaken by the university through the leadership of Dr. Grace J. Rebollos and through the staunch team of RDEC composed of Dr. Sarmiento, Prof. Rosalyn R. Echem, Ms. Ere Lee Q. Salang, research assistant and Engr. Oscar S. Sicat, university statistician.
This advocacy was in consonance with RA 9211, otherwise known as the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, which bans smoking in public places, prohibits sale of cigarettes within a 100-meter radius of school campuses and prohibits smoking among youths aged 17 years and below.
Since the idea sprung in 2008, the university is not only settling for “smoking areas” in the campus but envisions to have a totally smoke-free campus. This has been well-taken by a number of advocates in the campus to include the university officials, faculty members and student leaders.
In a separate interview with the ILS Principal, Prof. Yolanda N. Natividad, she believes that this is a good initiative undertaken by the university as we are locally taking the lead in the campaign for a smoke-free environment.
According to Natividad, the message worn by the pupils is not only relayed to other students, especially college smokers, but also to the parents of the pupils themselves. In fact, one parent said that he felt ashame when his son who apparently was wearing the shirt, told him that “smoking is bad.”
Natividad also added that what is important is that the students, as young as they are, get across the message that “smoking is bad.” She said that there were posters within the area that visually show the detrimental effects of smoking and she heard one student said,” so we will not be smoking when we grow up.”
When asked if she’s aware of what she’s wearing, KC, a pupil of Grade VI- Manalo said, “Masama po ang paninigarilyo sa kalusugan. Kaya’t ipinagbabawal ang paninigarilyo sa loob ng campus. Ito po ang nais naming ipahiwatig sa pamamagitan ng aming mga damit.” (Smoking is bad. That’s why smoking is prohibited in the campus. This is what we want to convey through our shirts.)
Moreover, Natividad said that this school year, she extends this advocacy to the Pupils’ Government that will be pushing through with an intensified smoke-free program by way of putting posters bearing a smoke-free campaign, conducting poster-making competitions and having “little guards” who will shoo away smokers in the area during recess, lunch and dismissal. And she said that they will be uttering this line politely enough, “Excuse me, this is a smoke-free area.” (Dion Jay E. Tality, WMSU-PAO)