Sunday, July 3, 2011

MMDA nabs 163 smokers on Day 1

At least 163 smokers puffing away in public places in Metro Manila were apprehended on the first day of a metro-wide anti-smoking drive, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) general manager Alex Cabanilla reported yesterday.

MMDA environment enforcers, aided by local government personnel, enforced the crackdown on smoking in public places and public conveyances starting yesterday. The MMDA conducted a month-long information drive in June to warn persons spotted smoking in public places.

The MMDA said those apprehended yesterday, given violation tickets by the MMDA’s environment enforcers, will have to pay a P500 fine for their first offense.

According to the MMDA, as of June 27, it managed to warn 8,792 smokers who were seen puffing in areas designated as public places by Republic Act 9211 or the Tobacco Control Act.

Smokers who will be apprehended for the second time will have to pay a P1,000 fine while those arrested for the third time and for subsequent offenses will have to pay a P5,000 fine. Those who will not be able to pay the fines will be made to render eight hours of community service.

Under RA 9211, public places are defined as “enclosed or confined areas of all hospitals, medical clinics, schools, public transportation terminals and offices, and building such as private and public offices, recreational places, shopping malls, movie houses, hotels, restaurants, and the like.”

Meanwhile, “public conveyances” are defined by RA 9211 as modes of transportation servicing the general population such as, but not limited to, “elevators, airplanes, buses, taxicabs, ships, jeepneys, light rail transits, tricycles, and similar vehicles.”

Tolentino also said that enforcers will also implement anti-smoking laws of various local government units. Four cities – Caloocan, Muntinlupa, Mandaluyong and ParaƱaque – have banned smoking in “open spaces,” including sidewalks.

Tolentino also said that unless a particular Metro Manila local government prohibits it, smoking is allowed in private vehicles.

Green group backs MMDA

The environment watchdog EcoWaste Coalition yesterday aired its support for the MMDA, saying that non-smokers’ right to health should also be protected.

“We join the MMDA in their strong-willed campaign to make the national capital region safe from tobacco pollution. We appeal to the general public to support this initiative that seeks to protect the public health and the environment from toxic smoke and litter,” said coalition president Roy Alvarez.

The move had also gained the backing of various groups, including the Philippine Medical Association, Health Justice and Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP).

In a joint statement with EcoWaste, FCAP executive director Dr. Maricar Limpin said the program is commendable. “We laud the MMDA for its smoke-free campaign as this will protect our right to health as enshrined in the Constitution and in various international instruments on human rights,” she added.

EcoWaste and FCAP said the campaign complements the Philippines’ commitment to implement the provision in the World Health Organization-initiated Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The FCTC, signed by the Philippines in 2003 and ratified by the Senate in 2005, mandates the implementation of a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertisement, promotion and sponsorship and smoking in public places.

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