MMDA makes smokers’ world smaller each dayBy Penelope Endozo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Smokers, beware. The next cigarette stick could cost you P500.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will start arresting on Monday smokers puffing away in public places within the perimeter of Metro Manila’s major and secondary roads.
MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino and the 17 city mayors and municipal councils agreed to intensify the authority’s no-smoking drive, extending its scope to cover the entire metropolis. The MMDA no-smoking campaign previously covered only government buildings.
“We are not against the smokers or the tobacco industry, but we want to protect the rights of the nonsmokers,” said Dr. Loida Labao-Alzona, head of MMDA Health Public Safety and Environmental Protection.
Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and each cigarette stick is made up of 4,000 chemicals, she said.
“A secondhand smoker who is around a smoker has the same risk of getting cancer,” Alzona said.
The public places include bus and jeepney terminals, loading and unloading bays, pedestrian passes, schools, hospitals, youth recreation centers and government offices.
The prohibition also includes a 100-meter perimeter from the public areas involved. Warning signs will be placed in major roads.
Violators will be fined P500 on first offense while those who cannot afford to pay the fine will be required to render eight hours of community service.
The MMDA environmental enforcers will start issuing tickets in July, following a month-long buffer in June to give enough time for the information to be disseminated.
Alzona clarified that MMDA traffic enforcers are not allowed to issue violation tickets but they can “warn and remind” violators.
Sixty-four environmental enforcers have been assigned to monitor major roads, while local government units have their own mechanisms to implement the program in secondary roads.
Tolentino cited Republic Act No. 9211, or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, the smoking prohibitions of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and local ordinances as the bases for the program.
Valenzuela is the only district in Metro Manila without a local ordinance against smoking. But Alzona said the Valenzuela government has indicated it will be issuing such an ordinance by Monday.
Tolentino, together with the 17 Metro mayors and LTFRB Chair Nelson Laluces, will officially launch the program, called the “100% Smoke-Free Metro” on Monday at the MMDA Makati headquarters.
The MMDA said its expanded antismoking drive coincides with the World No Tobacco Day and is aimed at achieving a smoke-free Metro Manila by 2012.
World No Tobacco Day
On May 31 each year, the World Health Organization celebrates World No Tobacco Day, to draw global attention to the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce consumption.
Tobacco use is the second cause of death globally (after hypertension) and is currently responsible for killing one in 10 adults worldwide.
“We must be very strict in implementing our antismoking regulations. We want the MMDA to become a model government agency in terms of compliance,” Tolentino said.
The New York-based Bloomberg Philantrophies has approved a P9.5-million grant to the MMDA to finance the antitobacco use program.
“We should transform Metro Manila into a smoke-free community. A healthy Metro Manila is a healthy and progressive Philippines,” Tolentino said.