Issue of August 6, 2017
Mt. Province

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Councilors suggest review of provision of smoking ban
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

Two councilors have filed a proposed ordinance that seeks to overturn two provisions of Ordinance 32-2017 or Baguio City’s smoking ban to take a second look on its impact on the livelihood of street vendors and local businesses.

Vice Mayor Edison Bilog, one of the main authors of the proposed amendatory measure, told the Courier on Thursday they recommend amending the recently passed ordinance, which prohibits ambulant or street vendors, including mobile or temporary stalls and vending stations, from selling tobacco products and/or electronic nicotine delivery system devices.

Another provision of the existing – and recently reinforced – anti-smoking measure the proponents want to repeal is the one that requires business establishments in the city to provide a designated smoking area in an open space and with roofing.

The vice mayor said the proposed amendment of the two stipulations is in response to the sentiments aired during consultations with concerned sectors.

Bilog said they acknowledge that the smoking ban will have a huge effect on the income of the street vendors and business establishment owners.

He added that they only wanted to assure that the anti-smoking ordinance is effectively implemented and the public is able to comply with its provisions.

“In our (current) ordinance, the area should be open and must have roof. Pero Kahit saang business establishment ka pumunta, mahihirapan ka nang kumuha ng space na open at malalagyan ng roofing. So what will happen is hindi rin lang makaka-comply ang mga business owners. Posible na hindi maipatupad ‘yung requirement na maglagay ng designated smoking area,” Bilog said, as he warned that many businesses will be compelled to close under the existing ordinance and so it has to correspond with public need. 

If the amendments are approved, these vendors will already be allowed to sell cigarettes and other tobacco products, particularly through retail, per stick or tingi-tingi basis.

“Even if people could buy retail from street vendors, they still cannot smoke in the sidewalks, so the act would still be limited,” he said.

In the designation of smoking areas, he said they aim to allow these in an enclosed area within an establishment, as long as it is sufficiently ventilated and with enough exhaust features to dissipate cigar smoke.

However, he said owners have discretion to declare their business smoke-free or a no-smoking zone, which, he said, is better and may set as a pattern in the no-smoking campaign.

He assured the amendments will not defeat the main purpose of the city’s Anti-smoking Ordinance, which complements Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s order for a nationwide ban on smoking in public places – that is to discourage people from smoking and patronizing tobacco products due to its health hazards.

“Providing that the selling of cigarettes should only be done by pack does not directly prohibit consumers from purchasing the same. Instead, it would even result in having consumers consume more cigarettes rather than just a single or a number of sticks of the tobacco products,” Bilog and co-author Councilor Elaine Sembrano said in their proposal.

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