15 rounded up on first day of enforcement of smoking law PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 02 June 2014 11:10

Policemen rounded up 15 persons caught violating City Ordinance 413 otherwise known as the Smoking Regulation Ordinance 2013, a newly-enacted edict that kicked off its enforcement on Saturday.

A police report disclosed that the violators were caught smoking in public areas within the city proper. They were invited to the Central Police Station for proper disposition.

Policemen gave short orientation to the violators on the smoking ordinance informing them that the local edict is being fully implemented starting Saturday and penalties are being imposed on those who violate it.

Aside from the apprehension of the violators, policemen also checked on sidewalk stands and downtown stores, advising the owners not to sell cigarettes near schools like Universidad de Zamboanga.

The smoking regulation ordinance was officially launched last April 7 for proper information dissemination and enforcement began last Saturday.

Mayor Beng Climaco together with Councilor Myra Paz Abubakar and other sponsors of the ordinance together with City Health Officer Dr. Rodelin Agbulos  spearheaded the launching of the information drive on Ordinance 413 after the flag raising ceremony in front of City Hall last April 7.

The launching was highlighted by the unfurling of the huge no smoking tarp at the City Hall balcony to underscore the City Government’s determination to implement the law to the letter. A similar tarpaulin set up in a billboard was also unveiled, after which, a motorcade around the city’s central district was held.

The information drive ended on Saturday coinciding with the observance of World No Tobacco Day,

Ordinance 413, enacted in June 2013, prohibits smoking in centers of youth activity such as playschools, preparatory schools, elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities, youth hostels and recreational facilities for persons under 18 years of age; elevators and stairwells; fire hazard locations such as gas stations and storage areas for flammable liquids, gas, explosives or combustible materials; within the buildings and premises of public and private hospitals, medical, dental and optical clinics, health centers, nursing homes, dispensaries and laboratories; public conveyance and public facilities including airport and ship terminals, train and bus stations, restaurants and conference halls except for separate smoking areas and food preparation areas.

But the designation of a smoking area in all enclosed places that are open to the general public, private work places and other places where smoking may expose a person to the other than the smoker, is mandated under the law.

The ordinance likewise provides penalties for smokers as well as establishments violating the provisions of the law. For smokers, the penalties are P500 or one day community service for first offense; P1,000 or two days community service for second offense; P2,000 or three days community service for third offense and P5,000 without prejudice to the filing of any criminal case or at the discretion of the Court for fourth and subsequent offense.

On the other hand, the establishment that allows smokers to freely smoke in “no smoking” areas and found violating the provisions of the ordinance, will be fined P1,000 for first offense; P2,000 for second offense; P3,000 for third offense and P5,000 for fourth offense and revocation or cancellation of the business permit.

Other principal authors of the ordinance are former Councilor and now District II Representative Lilia Nuño and Councilors Rommel Agan and Cesar Jimenez Jr.

Records from the City Health Office show that smoking is one of the major causes of death in the city for several years now.

The Wikipedia cites a 2009 survey spearheaded by the Department of Health which states that 28.3 percent of the population in the country are “current tobacco smokers”.  The Philippines is the 15th largest consumer of cigarettes in the world in 2002 and currently has one of the highest smoking rates in Asia as well as some of the lowest cigarette prices. The World Health Organization estimates that 10 Filipinos die every hour due to cancer, stroke, lung and heart diseases brought on by cigarette smoking the Wikipedia added. – Dan Toribio Jr. with report from Sheila Covarrubias