Issue of December 2, 2018

71th Courier Anniversary Issue
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Lolas of LT recruited in smoke-free drive
by Pamela Mariz Geminiano / PNA

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – This town is mobilizing grandmothers in its plan to bring its anti-smoking campaign to the barangay level.

Dr. Genevieve Degay, medical officer III of the Municipal Health Service Office and head of the town’s smoke-free task force, said the information campaign has been enhanced along with the enforcement of the ordinance.

Around 300 barangay officials, barangay tanods (village watchmen), and communication groups, including the La Trinidad Women’s Brigade composed of grandmothers, have been deputized to implement the ordinance.

“For this campaign to materialize, we would want to implement the anti-smoking drive down to the barangay level. That way, there will be a bigger chance of achieving a smoke-free La Trinidad,” Degay said.

Degay said that the town’s Tobacco Control Ordinance was approved in 2014, but the full implementation was stalled to first inform the public about the policy.

Ordinance 8-2014 aims to safeguard public health and ensure the well-being of La Trinidad’s consti-tuents by protecting them from the harmful effects of smoking and tobacco consumption. This is in line with Executive Order 26 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte to establish a smoke-free environment in public and enclosed places.

The local ordinance prohibits smoking in all public places, all workpla-ces, and public conveyance.

Violators are penalized with P1,500 on first offense; P2,000 on second offense; and P2,500 on third offense or imprisonment of not more than one year.

The permit to operate of an establishment found violating the ordinance also carries a penalty of revocation, if correction is not undertaken upon discovery of the violation or upon payment of the fine.

“We first had dry-runs. We started the implementation but did not impose penalties or fines and merely issued citation tickets as part of the information campaign,” Degay said.
The enforcement began only in 2017.

So far, she noted, most of those apprehended for violating the ordinance are visitors, who are not aware of the drive.

The town’s anti-smoking task force also had murals painted on the main thoroughfares to make both locals and visitors aware of the ordinance.

Degay said the town also has an information campaign on the ill effects of smoking, even on non-smokers.

Mayor Romeo Salda said the smoking areas must first be approved by the task force before these are designated as such.

“As of now they have not identified any designated smoking area in the valley,” the mayor noted.

Degay said the smoke-free La Trinidad drive will boost the valley upland town’s tourism.

“Tourists would like to visit a place, where they can breathe fresh air in a healthy and clean environment, and of course, amid a cold climate,” she said.

La Trinidad’s strawberry farms are among the tourist sites frequented by local tourists, especially those who visit nearby Baguio City.

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