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National

11,000 sign up for Albay's 'largest human no-smoking sign' as Guinness OKs record try

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

LEGAZPI CITY -- As of Saturday morning, or 13 days before the event, nearly 11,000 people have formally registered as participants in forming Albay’s largest human no-smoking sign for the Guinness World Records.

“We are still counting and nearing the targeted number of participants,” said provincial board member Herbert Borja, as he announced that Guinness already officially accepted the provincial government’s offer to set the world record.

Borja, chair of Smoke-Free Albay Network (SFAN) -- a local civil society group working with the provincial government on a province-wide campaign against tobacco use, said Guinness Title Records Manager Alex Angert recently made the confirmation through an e-mail sent to him.

“[Guinness] has accepted and welcomed our attempt to set the record for the most number of people arranged in formation to create a no-smoking sign at a single venue,” he said.

Along with the acceptance, Albay was also advised by Guinness to change the theme from its earlier offer of “largest smoke-free human logo” to “human no-smoking sign” due to non-existence of a world-accepted smoke-free logo, Borja said.

Guinness requires that the internationally-recognized sign for no-smoking, a lighted and smoking cigarette stick within a circle-backlash symbol, be used in the record attempt, he said.

In his message, Angert, according to Borja, said the current record on this category is formed by 250 persons, “but attempts to break the record are being initiated and achieved every day.”

In its attempt to set a new record, Albay will gather some 13,000 people who shall converge at the Bicol University football field here and form the no-smoking sign, occupying a 5,033-square-meter area.

The event will take place on June 28 as the province’s culminating activity for the observance of the “National No Smoking Month” in the country, which is meant to raise awareness on the ill effects of cigarette smoking and its hazards to the environment.

Led by the DOH, the national observance that extends the World No Tobacco Day activities encourages smokers to kick the habit “the sooner, the better.”

According to Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, the huge human no-smoking sign will deliver the message “living a tobacco-free life is more healthful these days in any community such as Albay.”

“While Albay has survived volcanic eruptions, massive flash floods, lahar flows, earthquakes, and super typhoons and getting more resilient against all types of natural and man-made disasters, we also want to tell the whole world that we can, at the same time, conquer the deadly habit of tobacco smoking in our communities,” Salceda said.

Beginnings

The anti-tobacco campaign in the province was started by the city government here about four years ago through the administration of then city mayor Noel Rosal by way of strictly implementing a city ordinance that bans smoking in all public places.

As part of the campaign, the local government also displayed in conspicuous places around the city giant billboards bearing graphic images on the ill effects of tobacco to health.

“No Smoking” signs were also posted all around.

Those caught violating the ordinance are penalized with fines ranging from P500 to P1,500 or community service for those who cannot afford the cash penalties.

For these, the city government has won the Department of Health’s Red Orchid Award three years in a row; the latest was last year and put the local government on the health agency’s Hall of Fame for its successful implementation of anti-smoking programs.

Inspired by the these achievements, the provincial government came out last year with its own anti-smoking ordinance which placed the entire Albay province under a ban on smoking in all public places effective November 2012.

The enforcement of the ordinance applies to all persons, whether natural or juridical, whether resident of the province or not, and all places found in the three cities and 15 municipalities of Albay.

This is to protect and promote the right to health of the people of Albay and its visitors, especially non-smokers who, when exposed to second-hand smoke can lead to heart attacks, according to Salceda.

Health issues

Classified by the International Agency for Cancer Research as a carcinogen, second-hand smoke has been the cause of death of more than 600,000 people each year worldwide, of which 168,000 or 28 percent are children.

“We are also promoting healthy lifestyle as tobacco smoking kills at least 10 Filipinos every hour and threatens one-third of the Philippine population that are at risk of dying from debilitating diseases due to tobacco use. Cancer, heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases are considered as the top four tobacco-related diseases,” Salceda said.

The World Health Organization, on the other hand, estimates that tobacco use will kill nearly six million people this year.

More than five million of them will be users and ex-users of smoked and smokeless tobacco, while more than 600,000 will be non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke.

“By coming together toward this noble cause of forming for the Guinness the largest ever no smoking human sign ever, we can show to the world that it is possible for Albay to be totally a tobacco-free community,” Salceda said.

Although the influx of people registering for the event is tremendous, the governor said, “We are still calling on more Albayanos to come and be counted in this historic event. Walk-ins are welcome on the event’s day,” he added.

Should the province succeed, Guinness will provide a certificate recognizing Albay’s record-breaking achievement, Angert said in his communication to Borja. 

 

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