After four years of sustaining a Smoke-Free environment for the Regional Population Office, PopCom-CAR has finally reached a new milestone in recognition of their efforts to keep a healthy and safe workplace, becoming a DOH Red Orchid Hall of Fame awardee.

Garnering a rating of 98.0 during the validation in May 8, PopCom-CAR is the first Regional Population Office in the country to have received such honor. A team of validators visited the Regional Office to look into the over-all performance of the Regional Office in terms of maintaining tobacco-free premises as well as interventions and initiatives for anti-smoking campaigns. Documents to support the MPOWER criteria were presented for review of the validators. For sustaining commendable practices in keeping and promoting a smoke-free environment for four consecutive years, POPCOM-CAR has finally received the Hall of Fame honor.

The awarding ceremony for the Luzon Cluster Awardees, held on June 18 at the Hotel Elizabeth in Baguio City, was graced with personalities and presentations that strengthened the campaign for a Tobacco-Free Environment. DOH Assistant Secretaries, Dr. Enrique Tayag, and Dr. Gerardo Bayugo, together with from DOH-CARO’s Dr. Valeriano Jesus Lopez and Dr. Amelita Pangilinan, OIC-Regional Director IV and III, respectively, presented trophies and certificates to the awardees. This event, as Dr. Pangilinan puts it, is “the first of its kind not only in the country, but in the world” as it acknowledges the possibility of a tobacco free working environment.

Now on its fifth year, 218 local government units, government offices, hospitals and health offices qualified as finalists in this year’s Search for Red Orchid Awardees. In the end, 92 awardees from the Luzon Cluster gathered together for the 2014 Red Orchid Zonal Awarding Ceremonies held on June 18 at Hotel Elizabeth, Baguio City. Out of all the 92 awardees, 22 were given the Hall of Fame Award and POPCOM-CAR is one of the recipients. The Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, Mayoyao District Hospital in Ifugao, and Barlig District Hospital in Mountain Province were also among the Hall of Famers in the region. Each Hall of Fame Awardee received a trophy, a banner, and a certificate.

Nominees were adjudged based on World Health Organization’s MPOWER initiative for a 100% Smoke-Free Environment. MPOWER is an acronym that stands for:

M           Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies

P             Protect people from tobacco smoke

O            Offer help to quit tobacco use

W           Warn about dangers of tobacco

E             Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship

R             Raise taxes on tobacco (waived for Offices and Hospitals)

In 1999, the World health Organization launched the World No Tobacco Campaign. A red orchid in an ashtray became its emblem, symbolizing death with the ashes and life with the red orchid. Consequently, the Red Orchid has become a symbol of one of the most successful advocacies of the Department of Health.