The Sangguniang Panlungsod pushes for a smoke-free Tagbilaran in support to the national government’s projection of a smoke-free country.
City Councilor Eliezer Borja proposes the “Comprehensive Smoke-Free Ordinance of the City Government of Tagbilaran” for this purpose after an initial study conducted by the SP Committee on Health, Sanitation, and Environmental Protection which he chairs.
Borja will lead the public hearing tomorrow afternoon, July 20, in the SP Session Hall at the 2nd floor of Tagbilaran City Hall to tackle the proposed ordinance entitled, “An Ordinance Prohibiting the Use, Sale, Distribution and Advertisement of Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products, and Electronic Cigarettes, in Certain Places, Imposing Penalties for Violations thereof and Providing Funds therefor, and for other purposes” which will be called the “Comprehensive Smoke-Free Ordinance of the City Government of Tagbilaran”.
Borja explained that it is important to gather inputs from different sectors on how to effectively achieve the purpose of the proposed ordinance, especially that the implementation of the ordinance entails penalty and allocation of funds.
In the proposed provision on the prohibited acts under the eyed “Comprehensive Smoke-Free Ordinance”, Borja suggested that it shall be declared unlawful and prohibited to smoke or vape “in enclosed or partially enclosed public places, workplaces, public conveyances (whether mobile or stationary), or other public places except in designated smoking areas.
Under the proposed ordinance, public places include “all places, fixed or mobile, that are accessible or open to the public or places for collective use, regardless of ownership or right to access”.
Falling under this definition are “schools, workplaces, government facilities, establishments that provide food and drinks, accommodation, merchandise, professional services, entertainment or other services”.
Also considered as public places are “outdoor spaces where facilities are available for the public or where a crowd of people would gather, such as, but not limited to, playgrounds, sports grounds or centers, church ground, health or hospital compounds, transportation terminals, markets, parks, resorts, walkways or sidewalks, entrance ways, waiting areas, and the like”.
“Persons-in-charge” who would “allow, abet or tolerate smoking or vaping in places” outside the approved designated smoking areas will also be liable under the proposed ordinance.
It will also affect the sale and consumption of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) which is defined in the proposed ordinance as “any device such as electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), electronic shisha (e-shisha), and other similar devices, whether or not it is used to deliver nicotine and other components to the user through the act of vaping that resemble the act of smoking or the outward appearance of smoking products”.
Other prohibited acts under the proposed ordinance are “selling or distributing tobacco products and ENDS to minors; purchasing tobacco products and/or ENDS to minors; ordering, instructing or compelling a minor to use, light up, buy, sell, distribute, deliver, advertise or promote tobacco products and/or ENDS”.
Also suggested to be penalized are “selling or distributing tobacco products and/or ENDS in a school, public playground or other facility frequented by minors, offices of the Department of Health (DOH) and attached agencies, hospitals and health facilities, or within 100 meters from any point in the perimeter of these places”.
The proposed ordinance also seeks to prohibit “selling of tobacco products and/or ENDS within premises of a government facility; selling tobacco products and/or ENDS without a municipal permit to sell tobacco products or ENDS; selling of tobacco products and/or ENDS as individual pieces or per stick, or in tobacco product packs containing less than 20 sticks/pieces; selling tobacco products and/or ENDS removed from its original product packaging or without the proper government-regulated and approved health warning.”
“Selling tobacco products and/or ENDS by ambulant or street vendors, including other mobile or temporary stalls, kiosks, stations or units; selling or distributing of sweets, snacks, toys or any other objects in the form of tobacco products which may appeal to minors” will also be prohibited.
It also seeks to penalize those who would place “cinema or outdoor advertisements of tobacco products and/or ENDS”; and those who would place, post, display or distribute “advertisement and promotional materials of tobacco products or ENDS, such as leaflets, posters, display structures and other materials within an establishment when such establishment or its location is prohibited from selling tobacco products and/or ENDS”.
It is also elaborated in the proposed ordinance that these modes of promoting tobacco products and ENDS will be prohibited if they show a tobacco or ENDS brand’s name- -including company name, logo or indicia- -and posted in a point- of-sale establishment where minors are allowed entry.
Also specifically identified as banned modes of promotion are “conducting promotional activities, campaigns, events, product sampling, and the like, where the establishments or its location is prohibited from selling or unauthorized to sell tobacco products and/ or ENDS, and/ or where minors are allowed entry; displaying and placing tobacco products and/ or ENDS in open store shelves/racks, except in enclosed, opaque and single-colored storages/containments”.
The proposed ordinance also seeks to declare the following acts as prohibited- -facilitation, participation or partnership engaged by any government official or personnel, regardless of employment status (permanent, casual, contractual, job order, consultant or special appointment) in any form of contribution, sponsorship or corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity, event, program or project by a tobacco company, tobacco industry front groups, or any representation working to protect tobacco industry interests, executed for or within the territorial jurisdiction of the City Government of Tagbilaran, with the aim, effect or likely effect of promoting a tobacco products and/ or ENDS, its use either directly or indirectly”.
The city government went ahead with the smoking ban within the City Hall compound right after the observance of the first World No Tobacco Day on May 31.
The city government intends to replicate it in the whole of Tagbilaran through the proposed ordinance sponsored by Borja.
Borja cited the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Memorandum Circular 17 issued in 2009 that “prohibits smoking in premises, buildings and grounds of government agencies providing health, education or social welfare and development services such as hospitals, health centers, schools and universities and colleges; provides for specific requirements for designated smoking areas”.
Also, CSC-Department of Health Joint Memorandum Circular 2010-01 “prohibits government officials and personnel from interacting with the tobacco industry and those representing their interests unless strictly necessary to effectively regulate, control, or supervise them, and its guidelines shall be adhere to strictly, Borja added.
He also cited a number of basis for passing the Comprehensive Smoke-Free Ordinance such as the 1987 Constitution where it is declared a policy that the “State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them”.
At least three special laws are also cited such as Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 which he said “accords every local government unit, the power and authority to promote the general welfare within its territorial jurisdiction, including the promotion of health and safety of its constituents; RA 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 which “declares the right of every citizen to breathe clean air,4 prohibits smoking inside enclosed public places including public vehicles and other means of transport, and directs LGUs to implement this provision”; and RA 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 which “prohibits smoking in certain public places6 whether enclosed or outdoors in certain places, the purchase and sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to and by minors and in certain places frequented by minors, imposes bans and restrictions on advertising, promotion and sponsorship activities of tobacco companies, and also directs LGUs to implement these provisions”.
Borja also cited that the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to which Philippines, as a party to the convention, “determined to give priority to the right to protect public health and to promote measures of tobacco control based on current and relevant scientific, technical and economic considerations, and agreed to implement the measures provided in the treaty”.
Another basis is the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Memorandum Circular 2009-036 which “provides that drivers and operators of public utility vehicles are responsible for preventing smoking in public conveyances and posting specified ‘No Smoking’ signs in their vehicles”.
Borja pointed out that the city government must consider with urgency, the aim to “demoralize the culture of smoking and tobacco consumption through comprehensive and proven effective tobacco control measures; and recognize “the fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s interests and public health policy”.
He also emphasized that “scientific evidence has unequivocally established that tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke cause death, disease and disability; lead to devastating health, social, economic and environmental consequences; and places burdens on families, on the poor, and on national and local health systems”. (with report from Weli Maestrado)