Consolacion Police wins Pink Orchid award
“We made it!,” rejoiced members of the Consolacion Police Station over their victory as runner-up to the Department of Health (DOH) Red Orchid Awards —- the health agency’s initiative to promote a tobacco-free work environment by discouraging smoking in the workplace.
This year, the Consolacion police was conferred a Pink Orchid Award by DOH-7 for their collective effort to transform the police station into a 100% tobacco-free environment following standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
A Pink Orchid Award Certificate, signed by Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque, was given to the police station.
Consolacion Police Chief, Chief Insp. Gerard Ace Pelare, received the award on behalf of the men and women of the station saying that it was remarkable especially for policemen who used to be chain smokers.
At least 10 out of 38 cops assigned to the station were heavy smokers.
For SPO2 Meriam Roble, Chief Administrative Officer of the Consolacion police station, the award was a great honor not only for her but for the town’s entire police force.
Roble said the campaign started when President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in 2016.
Town police believed that Duterte’s anti-smoking campaign should, first and foremost, apply to all of them.
Previous to that, the town police implemented a smoking ban in public places but excluded the perimeters of the police station.
Since 2016, “No Smoking” signs were put up within the premises of the police station to show to the public the seriousness of government’s anti smoking drive.
“To be one of the role models, Sir Pelare – during his assumption on his first day of duty in the office – issued a directive banning smoking at the premises of the police station,” said Roble.
She said the town police chief explained that cops must lead by example in order to successfully implement Duterte’s smoking ban.
“The day after Pelare gave the order, we immediately printed tarpaulins with ‘No Smoking,’” said Roble.
The signs were posted in several areas of the police station to inform the public of the police heightened anti smoking campaign.
“We wanted everyone to know that their police is concerned about individual health,” said Roble.
As a team, Roble said they also encouraged their colleagues, who were chain smokers, to avoid cigarettes.
The efforts of the Consolacion Police did not go unnoticed when a team from the Health Department came by their station to conduct an inspection.
Roble said that aside from seeing the ‘no smoking’ signs, the health inspectors also noted the absence of cigarette butts in the station’s surroundings and even in trash cans.
Two months later, another inspection conducted by DOH-7 showed that Consolacion police complied with additional health requirements earning them the orchid award.
For 28-year-old PO1 Allen Almacen, a motorcycle beat patroller who started chain smoking at the age of 17, the station’s smoking ban led him to live a healthy lifestyle.
“I used to smoke after eating or during drinking sessions. It gave me a nice feeling. But after 11 years of smoking cigarettes, I began to have palpitations when I exercise or go running,” he told Cebu Daily News.
“There were also times when I observed that I would get angry easily if I did not have a smoke,” Almacen added.
Almacen recalled that on the first few days of the ban, it was very difficult for him; but as a law abiding citizen, he knew that he needed to follow the rules.
From lighting at least a pack of cigarettes a day, Almacen began smoking less.
Outside the premises of the police station, he would find a place to hide when he felt he needed a smoke.
“Lain kaayo paminawon man gud nga naka uniform ka unya mag sigarilyo ka ug lain pud paminawon nga makita ta sa mga tao (It didn’t seem right for someone in uniform to be seen smoking),” Almacen said.
Not long after, he decided to quit smoking altogether.
“It’s actually all in the mind,” he said.
Almacen added that after he stopped smoking, he now avoids even the smell of cigarettes.
For Pelare, the town police chief, it was just a matter of enforcing the smoking ban beginning at his doorstep.
“I enforced the law and it should be started in your house first,” Pelare said.
To sustain the total ban, Pelare created a team to strictly monitor cops and other people who might take up smoking again within the premises of the police station.
“We still don’t know what the sanctions will be; but we will call on them to issue a warning,” said Pelare.
“We did not expect that our efforts will gain an award for our station,” Pelare said adding that he was happy that it inspired not just men and women in uniform but the entire town of Consolacion.
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