Davao City's new anti-smoking ordinance in effect
“Smokers must be aware of the places where they are allowed to smoke or face penalties,” said Dr. Domilyn C. Villareiz, head of the city's Anti-Smoking Task Force.
The new ordinance prohibits smoking in public conveyances, government-owned vehicles, accommodation and entertainment establishments – such as bars and hotels – workplaces, enclosed or partially enclosed public places, and public buildings.
An enclosed place, as defined by an old ordinance, refers to “an area which is closed whether totally or partially at the sides and is roofed or makes use of the [floor] above it as a ceiling, or even if open on all sides but is covered by a roof, permanent or temporary in nature.”
Smoking is also not allowed in public outdoor spaces (cemeteries, markets, and terminals); as well as public gatherings (concerts, rallies, parades, among others).
“[Smokers] are even prohibited to smoke 10 meters away from entrance and exit of establishments and in areas where people pass,” said Dr. Villareiz.
People in Davao City can only smoke in their houses, private vehicles and designated outdoor smoking areas.
Dr. Villareiz said, the new ordinance – which covers not only cigarettes but all tobacco products – is not “stricter” than the previous one, but a “clearer” version.
“In the new ordinance, we are just clarifying those prohibited places. In the old ordinance, it was not indicated where smokers could not smoke. Basically, both are the same but the new one is clearer than the old,” she said.
Senior Superintendent Ronald dela Rosa, Davao City Police Office chief, said people must follow the law.
“We are always ready... smokers must be ready because we will arrest them if they smoke in prohibited places.”
Fist-time violators will be given a citation ticket, required to attend smoking cessation counseling and pay the administrative penalty of P500. For subsequent violators, the fines are increased ranging from P1,000 to P5,000.
The Republic Act 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 does not have imprisonment as punishment. The Davao City ordinance has such penalty.
“We have to make a very strong ordinance by increasing the penalty and inclusion of imprisonment,” Villareiz said.
The length of imprisonment ranges from one month to four months at the maximum, she added.
The first anti-smoking ordinance was implemented in November 2002. It was successful and the city received much attention here and abroad.
In 2010, Davao City was recognized by the US-based Global Smokefree Partnership for its anti-smoking effort. It was the only city awardee among countries like Colombia, Turkey, India and Guatemala.
Also in the same year, the Geneva-based World Health Organization recognized Davao City as a leading example for taking forward the smoke-free agenda in the Philippines.
“Davao’s experience demonstrates that smoke-free laws can work in the Philippines,” the United Nations health agency said in a statement. — LBG, GMA News