Head of antismoking body kicks the habit
MAASIN CITY— Christopher Plateros has been a smoker since he was in high school. In 2009, he had to quit when he was appointed head of a group that would enforce this city’s anti-smoking ordinance.
“I had to quit because it would be awkward for me to implement healthy initiatives while I continued smoking. Besides if I continued to smoke, I have to do it 100 meters from the perimeter of the City Hall,” said Plateros, 37.
The city government has been strictly implementing Ordinance No. 2009-054 since November 2009, which bans smoking in public buildings, churches, commercial establishments and stores and in areas within a radius of 100 meters from these facilities.
The penalty ranges from a warning to a fine of P100 to P500 for second and third offenses. Government officials and employees face termination if caught smoking in banned areas.
Because of the city’s anti-smoking initiative, Maasin has been named one of the 34 winners of the Department of Health Red Orchid Awards for being a 100-percent tobacco-free environment.
The Red Orchid Awards recognizes best practices in implementing the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Article 8 or the protection from exposure to tobacco smoke.
The standards and requirements of a 100-percent tobacco-free environment are strict.
These include the enforcement of tobacco control policies, an information campaign on the hazards of smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke and delivery of devices to stop smoking.
The other awardees are the cities of Davao, Balanga, Roxas and Legaspi. Two other local government units from Eastern Visayas—Pintuyan in Southern Leyte and Naval in Biliran province—were also recipients of the award. Maasin bested the four cities in evaluation points.
The successful enforcement of the antismoking ordinance in Maasin has inspired the Southern Leyte provincial government to pass a similar ordinance on May 30 on the eve of World Tobacco Day.
Like Maasin’s version, the provincial ordinance bans smoking in public places. Tobacco products can only be sold and distributed outside a 100-meter radius from schools, public playgrounds and other facilities frequented by minors.
The province’s version also bans the sale, distribution and purchase of tobacco products to minors. It also bans tobacco advertisements in cinemas and billboards.
In the City of Calapan in Oriental Mindoro, the “No Smoking” ordinance will be strictly enforced in public places starting July 1.
Councilor Edel Ilano, author of the ordinance that was passed in February, said the measure aimed to discourage smoking and protect public health.
He said the legislative intent is not just to reduce lung cancer among the smokers but to protect those who will be affected by secondhand smoke.
“Healthy constituents help preserve the environment, too,” he added.
The ordinance imposes a smoking ban in major streets in the city such as J.P. Rizal Street until the village of Lalud; Leuterio Street, Del Pilar Street, Juan Luna Street, San Agustin Street and Bonifacio Drive.
Under the ordinance, owners of buildings, establishments and heads of offices should put signages of “no smoking area” and “smoking area” or they would be penalized.
The penalties consist of three days in jail and P1,000 fine for the first offense; five days in jail and P3,000 fine for the second offense; and seven days in jail and a fine of P5,000 for the third offense.
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