More ‘No Smoking’ signages urged

Jonathan Llanes

THE Baguio Regreening Movement (BRM) urged local businesses to adopt the use of clear and easy to read "No Smoking" signages in their establishments to inform the public.

In the weekly Talakayan sa Environmental Code forum, BRM chairman Erdolfo Balajadia said the public should be well informed of the existing ordinance that does not allow smoking in public places, while private establishments were encouraged to use easy to read and identify "No Smoking" signages.

Ordinance 34, series of 2017 prohibits the use, sale, distribution and advertisement of cigarettes and other tobacco products in certain places. It imposed penalties for violations.

City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit head Dra. Donnabell Tubera said although the penalties within the ordinance may be considered stiff, apprehending officers and non-smokers were encouraged to initially inform smokers that such establishments do not allow smoking instead of forcing them to abide by the ordinance.

"We encourage our apprehending officers and non-smokers to communicate with smokers in a happy manner since smokers understand that such ordinance exists and would abide by the ordinance," Tubera said.

She said the purpose of the no smoking measure is to safeguard public health and ensure the people's well-being by protecting them from the harmful effects of smoking and tobacco consumption.

The ordinance states that it will also be unlawful for any person to smoke or allow smoking in public utility vehicles, government-owned vehicles or any other means of public transport for passengers, accommodation and entertainment establishments, public building, public place, enclosed public place, or any enclosed area outside of one’s private residence or private place of work, except in duly designated smoking areas.

Meanwhile, the initial implementation of the no smoking ordinance has resulted in the apprehension of almost 1,000 individuals, most of whom were tourists who are not aware of the city's ordinance.

Police Chief Inspector Dexter Uminga of the Baguio City Police Office said although it is within their jurisdiction to apprehend violators of the no smoking ordinance, police initially inform would-be violators of the existing measure but would enforce the necessary penalties if the violators would be categorized as recidivists.

"During the initial implementation of the no smoking ordinance, students, drivers and tourists were part of those apprehended after being informed and warned of the penalties under the ordinance,” said Uminga.

The penalties for individuals caught violating the ordinance are P1,000 for first-time offenders, P2,000 for second-time offenders, and P3,000 and community service for third-time offenders.

For establishments caught violating the ordinance, first-time offenders would be charged with a P2,000 penalty, P3,000 for second-time offenders, and P5,000 for third-time offenders plus the cancellation of their business permits.