Issue of January 8, 2017

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La Trinidad’s smoking ban takes effect, IEC ongoing
by Ofelia C. Empian

FOR HEALTHIER LIFE -- With its aim to become a smoke-free municipality, the capital town of La Trinidad, Benguet has started the full implementation of its anti-smoking ordinance at the beginning of the year with violators already being caught. Constant information dissemination campaign is conducted to remind residents and visitors of the new policy. -- Ofelia Empian



The local government of La Trinidad, Benguet advises residents and visitors that its anti-smoking ordinance, which prohibits smoking in public places and government-owned structures, is now in full effect in the municipality.

Mayor Romeo Salda said the implementation of Ordinance 8-2014 took effect last week.

The ordinance regulates smoking, selling, distribution and advertisement of tobacco products and imposing penalty for violations.

Based on the records of the La Trinidad Municipal Police Station, there were 13 individuals apprehended for violating the ordinance.

Salda said three of these were visitors who were caught smoking at the Strawberry Hotel, a government-owned building. He said one of those apprehended chose to render community service since he cannot pay the fines.

Individuals caught violating the ordinance will be penalized with P1,500 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense, and P2,500 for the third and subsequent offenses or imprisonment not exceeding one year or both at the discretion of the court.

“Our police are already implementing the anti-smoking ordinance together with the moma (betel nut) ordinance,” Salda said.

The moma ordinance, which mandates the proper disposal of moma spittle and prohibits indiscriminate spitting of moma refuse in public places, was passed in 2011 but its implementation was not fully enforced.

The smoke-free policy was crafted in 2014 and finally approved in 2015.

The mayor said there is also ongoing information dissemination regarding the smoking ban. Additional IEC materials are also being printed for posting in various areas in the town.

Many of the flyers and posters were distributed last December primarily at the town center while the first tarpaulins displayed during last year’s launching went missing.

Flyers and reading materials are also given out to store owners and establishments when they renew their business permits, the mayor said.

Dr. Genevieve Degay, medical officer III of the Municipal Health Services Office, said the anti-smoking policy was created not only to catch violators but also to promote a healthier environment.

“The spirit of the ordinance is not to fine violators but promote a smoke-free and healthy community. We are hoping that with the help of various sectors conducting information dissemination, there will be lesser (individuals caught and) given fines,” Degay said.

She added smoking cessation counselors would also be available for violators or even individuals interested in quitting smoking.

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