MANILA, Philippines—Health advocates on Tuesday slammed the decision of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Board) of Cavite to scrap the smoking ban in Tagaytay City.
According to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP), the powerful tobacco lobby may have been behind the junking of the Tagaytay ordinance that banned smoking, including the use of electronic cigarettes, in all public areas in the tourist city.
“We cannot rule out the tobacco industry’s role in any watered-down smoke-free ordinance, including in its crafting, passage, implementation and enforcement. There is big business to protect in every smoke-free ordinance that goes out there,” the FCAP said in a statement.
It said the Cavite provincial council declared the antismoking ordinance an “invalid local legislation” because it went “beyond what is prescribed” by Republic Act No. 9211, or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, in “terms of how the national law defines ‘public places.’”
But FCAP pointed out that the provincial council had approved a similar local decree by the municipality of Carmona in December 2011, even as it was scrapping Tagaytay’s ordinance.
“Oddly enough, the Carmona municipal ordinance, which bore definitions lifted from the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in reference to fully and partially enclosed areas and public places, was passed unopposed and escaped the scrutiny of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan,” FCAP said.
The group encouraged local government units to adhere to the FCTC which was ratified by the Philippines in 2005 and should have been fully implemented by 2010.
It also reminded LGU officials to observe a Civil Service Commission circular prohibiting tobacco industry interference in government offices.
“If we are going to believe Cavite’s Sangguniang Panlalawigan that Tagaytay’s ordinance went beyond RA 9211, then how come we have other LGUs like Albay that approved a smoke-free ordinance which was clearly broader than the national law?” FCAP said.
“The fact remains the Philippines is a signatory to the FCTC and is obligated to adhere in good faith to the treaty’s provisions,” it said.
The group said that, under the FCTC, a local government may enact an ordinance with greater restrictions than RA 9211, if such an ordinance is deemed responsive to the needs of the local government and its constituents.
“One example of this is the ban on e-cigarettes that Tagaytay City wishes to implement,” FCAP said.