Two steps back

No. of smoking violators booked this year up 18%
DESPITE the intensified campaign against smoking, law enforcers have so far netted 5,220 violators from January to November this year, surpassing last year’s record of 4,396 by 18%.

On a per month basis, the Anti-Smoking Task Force recorded the highest number of arrest in June when they booked 1,077 violators.

Violators paid a fine ranging from P500 to P5,000. First time violators were given a citation ticket and made to undergo a smoking cessation counseling, along with an administrative fine of P500. The task force claimed that it collected a total of P1.8 million from the fines.

The ordinance bans smoking in enclosed and public places, based on the implementation of the New Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance.

“All establishments in Davao City shall follow the rule that ‘All establishments are considered smoke-free’ but may be allowed to apply for an outdoor smoking area, which shall be inspected and approved by the ASTF,” the ASTF said in its report.

The establishments have to also post a signage “This is a Smoke-Free Establishment” at the entrance and “No Smoking” in their strategic areas.

The ASTF has also continued to encourage cessation of cigarette smoking. As of November, it has done 28 lectures about the effects of smoking to health in schools, workplace and communities.

The task force further encouraged the hospitals to set up smoking cessation clinics.

For the campaign to be sustainable, ASTF has pushed for the creation of Barangay Anti-Smoking Team. It also organized the group of the Smoke-Free Davao Advocates, Anti-Smoking Youth Club and Anti-Smoking Kiddie Club.

The World Health Organization said in its website that “Davao City is a leading example for taking forward the smoke-free agenda in the Philippines. In advance of the 2003 National Tobacco Control Law and originating from tobacco control measures to strengthen anti-smoking policy promoted by the city mayor, the city council passed its Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance in 2002.”

The city’s anti-smoking law was eventually revised in 2013.

In a previous interview, Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branc 7 Clerk of Court, Restituto A. Madrazo, said that as of September, they noted a total of 2,635 cases filed and disposed 180 cases on the same period.

He said they receive an average of 6-10 cases filed daily since the law took effect.

“The smoking ordinance is a good advocacy, but the arresting police should inform the violators that they have options,” he said. “If they want to pay the fine immediately and attend a seminar, or face the case in court.”

Madrazo also estimated that they collect P31,200 in fines every month, but only P1,200 will go to the court’s coffers and the rest will be endorsed to the city government.  With Ma. Cecilia G. Badian