ASOG conducts policymaking workshop for tobacco control in Benguet
15 Mar 2023
The Ateneo School of Government (ASOG), in partnership with Smoke-Free Benguet and with financial support from the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease The UNION), spearheaded a workshop on evidence-based policymaking in support of tobacco control held at Prince Plaza Hotel in Baguio City from February 28 to March 1, 2023. Councilors, legislative staff, municipal health officers, medical officers and specialists, information officers, researchers, instructors, and staff from Local Government Units (LGUs) of Baguio City, Benguet, Bokod, Kabayan, La Trinidad, Mankayan, Sablan, Tuba, Schools Division Office (SDO) of Benguet, and the Benguet State University attended the workshop to deepen their knowledge in utilizing research as a tool in legislation and in using evidence to supplement well-informed decision-making when it comes to a multitude of issues that government units face in policymaking in tobacco control.
The two-day workshop started with a lecture on the current state of tobacco prevention and control in the Philippines, followed by a short introduction to the Department of Health’s (DOH) National Tobacco Prevention and Control Strategy 2030 and its priority for 2023.
After detailing the country’s situation and the government’s strategic direction, ASOG continued by introducing evidence-based policymaking as a good practice for government units. To give a better idea of the foundation necessary for its implementation, key points were highlighted such as the principles on building and compiling solid evidence, incorporating a feedback loop in program evaluation, and innovating from data and experience. Lastly, ASOG used its own GHW and plain packaging studies as a case example of how the academe can help craft policies to achieve desired health outcomes.
The lectures were supplemented with activities focusing on identifying gaps within current tobacco prevention and control legislation in the participants’ respective localities and areas of constituencies as a precedent for brainstorming necessary interventions and evidence to address them. Using the MPOWER framework as the basis, the participants recalled their experiences in implementing current policies and discussed amongst the group implications of current circulating ordinances on anti-tobacco advocacy and achieving the expected goals for important indicators in these areas. Furthermore, the multisectoral background of the participants (legislative, executive, enforcement agencies, academe, and civil service organizations) provided an opportunity to synergize efforts in support of tobacco control.
The workshop ended with high hopes for collaborative efforts between the participants and by the offices they represent in support of ongoing tobacco control efforts in health promotion, enforcement, and policymaking. With the challenge of regulating not only currently circulating tobacco products but alternative ones such as vape, ASOG reassured its partners at the local levels to continue working towards pushing for the betterment of health outcomes for the Filipino public through more capacity-building opportunities, evidence-based research and holding safe spaces for policy discussions.