December 6, 2022

The city government collected P749,000 in fines from more than 1,000 violators of its anti-smoking ordinance.
The city’s smoke-free task force reported 890 establishments and 451 individuals were caught violating Ordinance 34-2017 or the Smoke-Free Baguio Ordinance in 2021.
The collected fines are placed under a special trust fund for the city’s continuing anti-smoking campaign.
“This will continue because we are slowly seeing the gains despite the difficulty in the fight against smoking,” said Donnabel Tubera-Panes, of the city Health Services Office.
Right now, she said only about 15 establishments have been given a permit to have a smoking area.
“For one to have a smoking area, they have to apply and undergo the assessment. One requirement is for the smoking area to be outdoor and located at least 10 meters away from the building or the ingress or egress of the establishment,” Tubera-Panes said.
Sophia San Luis, executive director of ImagineLaw, a public health law organization that advocates and pushes for health policies, in a phone interview, said they are happy with the result of the city’s anti-smoking drive.
“We are happy that in Baguio you won’t see anybody smoking a cigarette, even at the Burnham Park,” she said.
She added Baguio has one of the strictest anti-smoking policies in the country.
“Baguio is one of the strictest in the implementation of the tobacco ordinance. Many local government units have passed their tobacco regulation ordinances but the implementation spells the difference,” she said.
San Luis observed business establishments do not display any cigarette print advertisements, and cigarettes are not displayed in sari-sari (general merchandise) stores.
The lawyer said smoking or any disease related to second or third-hand smoking kills an estimated 321 individuals in the Philippines daily or more than 117,000 deaths a year.
In a media interview on the sidelines of the launching of the anti-smoking art installation on Cecil Agpaoa, an advocate and member of the Smoke-Free Baguio, said that based on a 2019 survey, about 17 percent and 21 percent of Baguio and Benguet residents, respectively, smoke tobacco, with some of them starting the habit as early as 12 years old.
Before the passage of the ordinance in 2017, the number of smokers was at 35 percent for Baguio City.
“This means we are decreasing the number of smokers,” Agpaoa said.
All three were one in saying that the involvement of the community is playing a big role in making the city smoke-free. – PNA