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Foreign groups to observe Davao’s stiff anti-smoking measures

/ 04:06 PM July 23, 2013

AFP PHOTO

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Anti-smoking advocates from nine Asian countries will be meeting here with their Filipino counterparts in this month to observe the city’s toughened ordinance against smoking and its high-regulated sale of tobacco products.

Dr. Domilyn Villarriez, deputy chair of the city’s Anti-Smoking Task Force, said anti-smoking advocates from Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, spend a whole day to visit smoke-free places here and will also discuss ways on how to effectively adopt and implement similar laws in their respective homes.

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Dubbed the Smoke-Free Workshop On Enforcement, Villarriez said the three-day event—which will be held at the smoke-free and new Park Inn by Radisson Hotel—was initiated by the South East Asia Tobacco Alliance and sponsored by Malaysia’s Health Promotion Board.

“The first and a half days of the gathering will be dedicated to orientation and workshops on smoke-free policies (of Davao City) and the possible adoption and enforcement of said effort in their respective countries,” Villarriez told reporters here on Monday.

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She said Davao City’s being a ‘hall of famer’ under the Red Orchid Awards for its tough anti-smoking policies was the main reason it was chosen as venue for the event.

Smoking in public areas and the sale of cigarettes to minors had been banned in the city since 2001, but last year, the Sangguniang Panlungsod decided to tighten the anti-smoking ordinance by including places previously identified as smoking areas into places where lighting cigarettes is now prohibited. Even devices designed to help smokers quit had been banned under the amended ordinance when used in public and areas identified as non-smoking.

“The New Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance of Davao City, which made the old ordinance stiffer, is the first of its kind in the entire Philippines,” Vilarreiz said.

Under the toughened ordinance, which will take effect on the 11th anniversary of the anti-smoking campaign here on May 31, smoking in open areas where people congregate, including sidewalks, is now prohibited.

Violators will not only be fined—from the minimum of P500—but will also be made to undergo smoking cessation counseling in accredited centers.

The toughened anti-smoking ordinance also disallowed businesses to designate closed areas inside their buildings as smoking areas. Only open areas located about 10 meters away from entrances, exits or any place where clients converge should be made into smoking areas.

Signs should also be put up informing people they were in a smoking area and graphic depictions with corresponding explanations of the ill-effects of smoking to one’s health should also be posted around the designated smoking areas.

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“The new ordinance is really stiff because it now also prohibits the use of smoking electronic device systems such as electronic nicotine, electronic cigarette and similar devices whether or not it is used to deliver nicotine to the user, that resembles the outward appearance of real smoking products,” Villarreiz said.

She said companies manufacturing t-shirts or any things advertising a tobacco product – real or imagined – will also be fined from P100,000 to P400,000.

Villarreiz said that initially, policemen were the only ones authorized arrest violators and issue citation tickets but the ATSF will eventually tap mall security guards, security guards of establishments and traffic enforcers.

Senior Supt. Ronald dela Rosa, city police chief, said the police had been very active in enforcing the city anti-smoking ordinance.

He said in 2012 alone, at least 2,356 violators had been arrested and charged for smoking in areas where it is banned.

Villarreiz said the ASTF was also very elated at a rule the city police office under dela Rosa has implemented, which was prohibiting policemen from lighting cigarettes when they are on duty.

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TAGS: anti-smoking measures, Anti-Smoking Task Force, Davao, Health, Regions, Smoking, tobacco control, tobacco products
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