BEHIND THE LINES: The right to smoke PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 03 June 2014 11:13



Thank you, Myra V. Abubakar, for authoring an ordinance banning smoking in pubic places. But, no thanks, for enacting that ordinance into law — as far as smokers are concerned. We agree that smoking should be disallowed in enclosed places such as hotels, government offices, hospitals, restaurants, bars, theaters, malls, recreational centers (bowling alleys, billiards,etc.), and private buildings because while smokers have the right to shorten their lives, non-smokers have as much right to extend their stay on earth. I wish they’d change the warning on cigarette packs to read: “Second-hand smoke is more dangerous to your health.”

I recall Councilor Aster Solis, a human rights advocate during his time when he was working with the late Mayor Cesar C. Climaco as city legal officer, fighting tooth and nail not to ban smoking in public places. That was 19 years ago when the councilors were legislators acting totally independently from the executive — unlike the last 10 years. There’s much talk about the use or misuse of the controversial Intelligence Fund. That’s an aside.

But smokers caught inhaling the vice on sidewalks and streets or open spaces should not be arrested because that is a violation of their right and freedom to die early. Hong Kong imposes stiff penalties for smoking in non-designated areas. But, you can smoke on sidewalks except near bus stops. The Chinese are more addicted to figs than Filipinos. Pinoys, especially the poor, are more addicted to gambling and drinking. Cigarettes taste better when you’re either gambling or drinking. It’s not the coffee that makes cigarettes taste so good. That’s a myth, believe me.

Government employees who smoke will spend about four hours working — two hours more smoking intervals and two hours for “tsismising” about illicit relationships and how bad the peace and order conditions are. The smoking councilors will miss some important deliberations because they’d step out of the session hall to sniff tobacco.

By the way, Charlie Sebastian of the “sabroso” Sunflower Restaurant, should be given a medal for being the first restaurant owner to impose the smoking ban 20 years ago. I remember carrying a table and setting it out on the pavement fronting his establishment just so I and some media friends could smoke while waiting for a press conference to be called by city hall. But we were charged for another offense — obstruction to pedestrians. Hi,hi,hi.

It’s not easy to distinguish between right and wrong in this case. But the law is the law and no one is above it, right? Wrong. Not in Zamboanga, Django, where there are as much law offenders than law-abiding citizens. How about urinating in public places? Mendicancy? Prostitution? Illegal gambling? Farting in public vehicles? Home invasion? Littering? Sus, madre, the list is long. Where do the legislators stand on these malefeasances? They pass resolutions such as expressing no objections to the operation of mining operations in this city. How about urging city hall to clear R.T. Lim boulevard and the sports complex of people? Do something good for the city, na man. Que pasa, damas y caballeros de consejo?

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 June 2014 11:15