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DepEd launches online portal for smoking violators in schools

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Education (DepEd) has launched an online portal where the public can report violators of its comprehensive tobacco control policy that prohibits smoking and the sale of tobacco products in school zones.

Dubbed the EskweLA BAN sa Sigarilyo, the project aims to strengthen the implementation of the existing departmental policy promoting smoke-free schools all over the country.

Among its features is a website, http://tobaccofreedeped.org, where anyone can report violations such as smoking inside schools and DepEd premises, selling and advertising of tobacco products within 100 meters of schools.

“We see this project aligned with the government’s intensified campaign against smoking, as demonstrated in the recent issuance of Executive Order No. 26,” DepEd - Legal Affairs Undersecretary Alberto Muyot said, referring to President Duterte’s recently implemented nationwide smoking ban.

The public can also report concerns such as conflicts of interest and engagement of DepEd employees in an occupational activity or their unnecessary interaction with tobacco companies.

Aside from the reporting mechanism, the project — which was launched in partnership with the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund — will also develop training manuals and school-based campaign materials to strengthen the implementation of the policy.

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The DepEd said the project’s brand is a play on the Filipino words eskwelalaban, and eskwela ban to communicate to the public that the schools are in a collective fight against tobacco use.

“Intended to carry two meanings, either the school’s ban on cigarettes or the school’s fight against tobacco, EskweLA BAN sa Sigarilyo aims to increase public awareness of the ban stipulated in the DepEd order…and to build the capacity of schools to effectively take a stand against tobacco by implementing the strategies enumerated (in the policy),” the DepEd stated.

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