BAGUIO CITY — Efforts to snuff out smoking in the Philippines' "city of pines" have so far made 1,384 people pay fines worth at least a grand for violating the city's anti-smoking ordinance that started a year ago.
From January to May 25, 2018, the Baguio City government caught 822 individuals and business establishments violating the ordinance, bringing to 1,384 the total number of apprehended individuals and establishments since its effectivity in May 2017.
The city's Smoke-Free Task Force has been making the rounds and monitoring establishments and public places, especially those near school premises, City Councilor Joel Alangsab, author of the ordinance, noted on Monday.
Alangsab added the task force will also continue checking on those near barangay halls.
He said the task force will go on with its job of implementing the city government's campaign to make Baguio City a non-smoking zone to protect its citizens and tourists' health.
The task force is made up of representatives from different city government offices and concerned private groups.
Under the ordinance, an individual violator pays a minimum of PHP1,000, PHP2,000, and PHP3,000 for the first to third offense, respectively.
An establishment is fined PHP2,000, PHP3,000, and PHP5000 for the first to third offense, plus revocation of business license. Most of the establishments nabbed are operating at the central business district.
In March alone, 600 individuals were caught defying the ordinance, one of them was even slapped with fines totaling PHP11,000, for breaking various provisions of the ordinance.
The ordinance prohibits the use, sale, distribution, and advertisement of cigarettes and other tobacco products in certain places and imposing penalties for violations.
Earlier, Dr. Donnabel Tubera, action officer of the anti-smoking task force, said although the real impact of the ordinance can be measured in three years' time, the implementors have already observed improvement in the cleanliness of the environment and in the people's gall to smoke in public.
“Before, we can see people smoking anywhere. Now, they hide or they smoke at home. It’s a good indicator even after just a few months of implementation,” Tubera said in an interview with local media. “You know, there is a law and that we cannot change. (We do not condone any violator).
Tubera is hopeful Baguio will soon see the new generation free from the unhealthy vice. She said: "We would like our schools and the whole city to be smoke-free, so we urge everyone to join this bandwagon in Baguio. Now that we have stabilized the implementation and enforcement of our ordinance, there will come a time that we will have a tobacco-free generation and all those born from the year 2000 ages 18-20 will no longer be smoking tobacco, particularly cigarettes.”
"We will collectively implement our anti-smoking ordinance in the city, with the goal to be a smoke-free Baguio,” said Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan.
In a related development, the Baguio City Jail Female Dorm is now vying for its third red orchid award, hoping to reach the hall of fame in this respect.
The Red Orchid award was conceptualized by the World Health Organization (WHO) together with the Department of Health (DOH) and other stakeholders to combat tobacco use and for a smoke-free environment. (PNA)