by Hanna C. Lacsamana
Proposed changes to the Anti-Smoking Ordinance of Baguio deserve support if it will strengthen the government’s effort to stop tobacco smoking and its terminal effects on public health.
Councilor Peter Fianza said Ordinance 8, s. 2008 or the Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance of Baguio passed in 2008 must be appreciated but it is just proper to consider proposed recommendations that will boost the momentum of the authorities in the implementation of the ordinance.
“Initially it (the anti-smoking ordinance) is very difficult to implement, but it is gaining ground. If only to improve it, let us look into the amendments and take these into account,” Fianza said. “In fact, it can be made urgent if it would help the city stop smoking,” he added.
The City Health Services Office since 2012, has been prodding the city council to amend the ordinance, which only spells out where and where not to smoke.
Dr. Donabel Tubera, CHSO medical officer IV said a new ordinance should be passed to widen the scope of prohibition, including regulations on tobacco advertising, sponsorships by tobacco companies, and smoke cessation counselling.
She reiterated the need for a stepped-up anti-smoking law due to the alarming health situation resulting from tobacco smoking. Based on statistics, the top five causes of deaths in the city are linked to smoking.
Councilor Joel Alangsab filed a proposed ordinance amending Ordinance 8, which also include stepped-up enforcement strategies, which shall not be limited to the police, but also deputizes barangay officials and allows citizens’ arrests in the implementation of the ordinance.
It also proposes P200,000 as budget for the first year of its implementation and P50,000 for the succeeding years of tobacco control interventions. A task force will also be created to implement the ordinance.
The city council so far has not yet finally approved the amendments.