City Sanggunian okays anti-smoking ordinance

Tagbilaran City will become a smaller place for smokers after the Sangguniang Panglungsod (SP) approved during the last session of 2017 the measure that will make the city a smoke-free zone.

With Proposed Ordinance No. 10-17 approved on Wednesday, smoking or vaping in public places across the city shall be banned, at the same time, it would limit the use of cigarette including e-cigarettes and other similar devices only in designated places duly approved by the City Health Office.

The proposed ordinance is also limiting the use of electronic cigarettes aside from combustible cigarettes.

Despite the idea of electronic cigarettes being less dangerous and not much harmful compared to tobacco smoking, the ordinance went ahead to ban the use and sale of the products.

Electronic cigarettes are devices that convert a nicotine juice into a vapor and the science on the safety of the products remain unresolved due to lack of long-term studies. The jury is still out whether electronic cigarettes may also impact non-vapers the way smoking does with non-smokers via secondhand smoke.

P.O. No. 10-17 is the city council’s contribution to the national government’s campaign against smoking which aims to protect public health by reducing exposure to secondhand smoke to non-smokers and a way of encouraging current smokers to quit their deadly habit.

Tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke are known to be one of the leading causes of death, disease, and disability in the world.

The World Health Organizations (WHO) says close to 7 million people worldwide die each year from diseases related to smoking.

The prohibited acts also provided for under Section 5 of P.O. No 10-17 are the following are for persons-in-charge to allow, abet or tolerate smoking or vaping in places enumerated in the preceding paragraph, outside of approved Designated Smoking Area;

Selling or distributing tobacco products and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), another term for electronic cigarettes, to minors

Purchasing tobacco products and/or ENDS to minors is no longer allowed.

It is no longer allowed for persons to engage in ordering, instructing or compelling a minor to use, light up, buy, sell, distribute, deliver, advertise or promote tobacco products and/or ENDS.

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 are no longer allowed.

The selling of tobacco products and/or ENDS within premises of a government facility is prohibited.

Selling tobacco products and/or ENDS without a municipal permit to sell tobacco products or ENDS is illegal.

It is no longer allowed to sell tobacco products and/or ENDS as individual pieces or per stick, or in tobacco product packs containing less than 20 sticks/pieces.

It is unlawful to sell 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 is no longer allowed

The selling or distributing of sweets, snacks, toys or any other objects in the form of tobacco products which may appeal to minors shall no longer be allowed

It is not allowed to place cinema or outdoor advertisements of tobacco products

The placing, posting, displaying or distributing advertisement and promotional materials of tobacco products or ENDS, such as but not limited to 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 shall not be allowed

The placing, posting, displaying or distributing advertisement and promotional materials of tobacco products or ENDS, such as but not limited to leaflets, posters, display structures and other materials that show a tobacco/ENDS brand’s name (including company name), logo or insignia, such as in a point- of- sale establishment, where minors are allowed entry will no longer be allowed

It is illegal to conduct 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

There shall be no open display and place tobacco products and/ or ENDS in open store shelves/racks, except in enclosed, opaque and single-colored storages and/or containers.

It is now illegal to conduct 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 city, with the aim, effect or likely effect of promoting a tobacco products and/ or ENDS, its use either directly or indirectly.

The ordinance is sponsored by the Chairperson of the Committee on Health, Sanitation and Environmental Protection, City Councilor Eliezer Borja. Now, the measure shall be submitted to the Office of the City Mayor for approval and will be transmitted to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for the mandatory review.

Once approved, this smoke-free ordinance shall take effect 15 days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation or posting in at least two conspicuous places within the city.

TAKING AWHILE

It has been awhile before the city council has been able to craft an anti-smoking ordinance since such move may impact some residents and business establishments.

Right after the president came out with his executive order, the Tagbilaran city council has been working to fix several provisions of the ordinance.

One of the critical contentions is the identification of locations of designated smoking areas in the city. It is crucial the sites will not be much nuisance to the public.

The city, together with other municipal councils in Bohol, is busy crafting their anti-smoking ordinances to support executive order no. 26, implementing a smoking ban.

The EO No. 26 was signed on May 16 by President Duterte and took effect on July 23.

“Public places means 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, including but not limited to schools, workplaces, government facilities, establishments that provide food and drinks, accommodation, merchandise, professional services, entertainment or other services. It also includes outdoor spaces where facilities are available for public or where a crowd of people would gather, such as, but not limited to, playgrounds, sports grounds or centers, church grounds, health/hospital compounds, transportation terminals, markets, resorts, walkways/sidewalks, entrance ways, waiting areas and the like,” the EO says.

BEFORE THE EO

Before the executive order was released, the city has been mulling the passing of an anti-smoking ordinance.

As early as April this year, a representative from the World Health Organization (WHO) visited the city to analyze the measures taken by the city about a no-smoking policy.

EFFECTS OF SMOKING

Smoking has been acknowledged as a personal and a public health hazard. There are volumes of studies indicating the risks of smoking to the body and possibility of premature death.

Inhaling tobacco smoke is one of the most toxic practices of man. A tobacco smoke contains about 7,000 different chemicals, of which, 60 chemicals are known to be carcinogenic. Formaldehyde, tax, benzene and nicotine are just some of the chemicals one can get from smoking combustible tobacco.

More than seven million people around the world die from smoking directly. About 890,000 people die from second-hand smoke from all over the world, based on statistics from the WHO.

Nearly 80 percent of the more than 1 billion smokers worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is heaviest.

Tobacco users who die prematurely deprive their families of income, raise the cost of healthcare and hinder economic development.

In some countries, children from poor households are frequently employed in tobacco farming to provide family income. These children are especially vulnerable to “green tobacco sickness”, which is caused by the nicotine that is absorbed through the skin from the handling of wet tobacco leaves. (DSA with reports from a press release from the Sangguniang Panglungsod)

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