Samal island bans smoking in public
TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte, Philippines – The Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) in Davao del Norte has joined other local governments in Southern Mindanao in banning public smoking to make the entire resort-island pollution-free, authorities on Monday said.
But the implementation of an ordinance that bans smoking within a hundred meters from government offices and inside public vehicles in Igacos’s 44 villages would be gradual, with officials bracing for opposition from businesses that have been earning from the more than half a million tourists visiting the island yearly, said Melrose Arig, Samal City information officer.
“We want to make Samal 100 percent smoke-free so we will be launching a massive campaign to inform and educate (locals and visitors) about the ban,” Arig told Philippine Daily Inquirer by mobile phone.
The resort-island, known for its pristine beaches, last year attracted over 679,000 tourists, about 30,000 of whom were foreigners. The island is also known for its prime diving spots and a cave populated by over a million fruit bats. It was the latest local government in Davao region to join the nationwide campaign against smoking in public.
Davao City became the first area in Southern Mindanao to ban smoking in public places, with hundreds of violators already slapped with fines in the last 12 years.
Early this year, Tagum City also passed a similar measure, while a province-wide ban was enacted by the Davao del Norte Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial board) last May during its hosting of the Palarong Pambansa (National Games).
The nearby province of Compostela Valley also has a similar local law.
Arig said a task force would be created to ensure the implementation of City Ordinance number 2013-223.
“The task force would be deputized to arrest those who violate,” she said, without providing details as to the possible offenses and corresponding penalties.
“Ours is a tourist-island and we’re expecting some opposition so we have to go slow,” she said. SFM