Legazpi city, June 27 – Organizers of Albay province’s attempt to set a world record for the biggest human no-smoking sign are expecting the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to snap photos of the event that will take place here on June 28.
“NASA is highly considering it based on information relayed to us by an official source,” provincial board member Herbert Borja said on Wednesday here.
Borja is the head of the Smoke-Free Albay Network (SFAN), a civil society group working with the provincial government in the project that will attempt to set the record for the most number of people arranged in formation to create a no-smoking sign at a single venue.
NASA is civilian agency of the United States federal government with the mission of conducting research and developing operational programs in the areas of space exploration artificial satellites, rocketry and space telescopes and observatories.
It is also responsible for international cooperation on space matters.
The US space agency operates an International Space Station (ISS) capable of taking images of the Earth as part of its scientific activities.
Borja said NASA could take clear photographs of the human no-smoking sign using powerful cameras from outer space because of its huge size that will occupy a 5,033 square-meter portion of the Bicol University ball ground at its main campus here.
Some 15,000 people, who will be divided into three groups, are expected to attend.
The participants will be classified according to the three colors based on the internationally-recognized no-smoking sign featuring a lighted and smoking cigarette inside a red circle and backlash with a white background and will form the image.
Borja said the original plan was for only 13,000 people–7,263 of them to wear white shirts to form the background, 3,605 in red for the circle and backlash and 892, black for the cigarette and smoke images.
“Since we have now over 14,000 who have formally signified their intentions to join the historic event, we are sure to make the image clearer and more distinct and the colors are more vivid for aerial documentation based on Guinness World Record’s guidelines,” Borja said.
It is expected that the image to be produced by this number of people is an easily identifiable no-smoking sign on both short and far distances, he said.
NASA’s reported intention to photograph the event came as both national and international organizations are taking notice on Albay’s unique strategy in pushing for its advocacy against smoking in a global platform.
“We are already receiving messages of support from national and international groups and individuals commending our efforts,” Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said.
Among the early out-of-town supporters of the activity are Metro Manila Development Authority Chair Francis Tolentino, the Health Justice and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids organizations, he said.
As arranged, the Philippine Air Force Tactical Operations Group for Bicol will facilitate the aerial documentation of the event on board helicopters while the media community will participate in two ways — conduct coverage or be part of the human no-smoking sign.
A total of 50 local media practitioners have so far signified to cover the event and 143 opted to be part of the human sign.
The event will culminate the series of activities that the provincial government and SFAN have prepared in the ongoing 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.
Salceda said the huge human no-smoking sign will deliver a message saying “living a tobacco-free life is more healthful these days in any community such as Albay.”
“This gives relevance and meaning to the implementation of the Albay Smoke-Free Ordinance and to instill awareness among Albayanos on the ill-effects of smoking and its hazards to the environment,” he said.
This is to protect and promote the right to health of the people of Albay and its visitors, specially non-smokers who, when exposed to second-hand smoke, may suffer heart attacks, he said.
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.
Through its smoke-free drive, the governor added, Albay is 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. (PNA report by By Danny O. Calleja)