Thursday, March 5, 2020

Meralco bans all forms of smoking in company facilities

To further strengthen the company’s commitment for a healthier and more sustainable environment, Manila Electric Company (Meralco) announced that smoking, including vaping and using e-cigarettes, will no longer be allowed, effective March 1, 2020, in all Meralco facilities and premises.

To ensure complete compliance, the company placed visible signages around all Meralco properties, including former designated smoking areas. Security representatives will be regularly inspecting the said areas as a reinforced compliance check.

Meralco also offers a Smoking Cessation Program for employees interested in quitting smoking, overseen by the company’s internal Corporate Wellness Center (CWC) and its doctors. Based on data from the World Health Organization (WHO), there is an 84% increased chance of quitting successfully after being intensively advised by a physician. WHO records show that health benefits of quitting smoking include carbon monoxide levels in blood immediately dropping to normal range after just twelve hours, with long-term effects including the extension of life by up to ten years for those who quit at an early age.

WHO further stressed the impact of smoking, stating that among the most serious effects are the development of pulmonary and cardiac disease, including bronchopulmonary cancer, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and ischaemic heart disease. Being aware that bronchopulmonary cancer is at present increasing in all countries of the world, the organization holds that agencies must now demonstrate their concern for the reduction of the main causal factor in diseases related to smoking.

Meralco President and CEO Atty. Ray C. Espinosa, who launched the company’s Sustainability Office last year, spoke of this smoking ban as being aligned with the company’s recent push for sustainability and inclusivity, saying “With our recent emphasis on sustainability, we look to safeguard and protect both Planet and People. Here at Meralco, we are developing and executing plans and programs to protect and preserve our environment, and to embed a sustainability mindset within our organization, ensuring that our employees not only understand Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) concepts but are also able to put these principles into practice.”

Atty. Espinosa further explained the smoking ban’s relevance by saying “While there is much spotlight put on the health benefits for the people, what is often overlooked is smoking’s impact on the environment.”

Aside from the health impacts of environmental tobacco smoke exposure leading to lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and pulmonary disease, WHO data also shows that tobacco smoking leads directly to the emission of 2,600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and about 5,200,000 tonnes of methane. Cigarette butts are also the most commonly discarded piece of waste globally.

“Campaigns like this smoking ban signal our ‘great leap’ into sustainability, and our Sustainability Office will lead and rally One Meralco on this very important effort,” Atty. Espinosa closed.

Meralco’s smoking ban was implemented in line with Executive Order No. 26, entitled Providing for the Establishment of Smoke-Free Environments in Public and Enclosed Places, which was issued by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, as well as Executive Order No. 106 prohibiting vaping and e-cigarettes in public.

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