BACOLOD CITY – Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez has reconvened the Bacolod Anti-Smoking Task Force (BASTF) to resume the enforcement of the city’s anti-smoking ordinance after it was stopped at the onset of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“The BASTF was convened previously and its action team was organized to enforce the ordinance but eventually halted its operation due to the emergence of the pandemic,” said Benitez, who chairs the task force, with Councilor Simplicia Distrito as the vice chairperson.

A copy of Executive Order (EO) 34-22 released by the city government on Monday stated that the BASTF, with new members, will continue to implement, reinforce, and monitor the ordinance and protect it from tobacco industry interference at all times.

It will also conduct educational awareness campaigns, information dissemination programs, and capacity building programs that will inform the constituents and train enforcement officers.

As the task force chair, Benitez will lead the implementation of all anti-smoking ordinances, including the e-cigarette regulatory ordinance, and supervise all the operations of the action officer and the action team.

The mayor has tasked the city administrator to assist in overseeing the implementation and enforcement, provide regular status updates, and oversee the destruction of non-compliant cigarette products.

He also assigned the city health officer to issue official citation tickets to enforcers and assign hotline or any other number where violations can be reported as well as the city legal officer to assist the task force in reviewing reports and complaints and extend any legal assistance on matters pertaining to the ordinance. (PNA)