Baguio BPOs told to scrap designated smoking areas

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The city ordered the various business process outsourcing (BPO) companies to remove their designated smoking areas (DSAs) as one of the immediate measures to contain the surge in Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases among their call center agents.

Dr. Donabel T. Panes, head of the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of the City Health Services Office, stated that the DSAs of BPO companies had been identified as one of the causes of the surge in COVID cases among call center agents because the smokers no long adhere to the prescribed basic health and safety protocols, thus, the need for the BPO companies to remove the same to prevent the continuous surge in confirmed COVID cases among their employees.

Earlier, COVID-19 cases in the different BCPO companies surged over the past several weeks and that the BPO companies were previously identified as one of the sources of the clustering of cases.

She expressed the local government’s gratitude to the management of the different BPO companies for immediately responding to the request for the same to remove their DSAs to abate the further escalation of cases among their workers for them to be able to sustain their respective operations amidst the ongoing global pandemic.

Panes urged smokers to quit smoking so as not to weaken their immune system that might cause them to contract the deadly virus and eventually affect their health condition because of the possible weakening of their lungs which is also the target of the virus.

For her part, Cecile Agpawa, Project Leader of the Smoke Baguio, disclosed that while there was a significant reduction in the number of establishments that had been apprehended for violation of the city’s smoke free ordinance over a year now because of the effects of the pandemic that caused the closure of most establishments, there was an increase on the number of individuals who were arrested by deputized agents for violation of the ordinance during the said period.

She claimed that many of the individual smokers were found to be smoking within the vicinity of their homes during the implementation of the various levels of community quarantine that resulted to the significant increase in the number of apprehended persons violating the existing smoke free ordinance.

Agpawa stipulated that members of the Smoke Free Task Force will continue to be aggressive in the implementation of the smoke free ordinance to ensure that individuals and owners of establishments will strictly adhere to the prescribed prohibited acts to avoid being penalized and required to conduct community service.

Ordinance No. 34, series of 2017 or the city’s smoke free ordinance outlines the prohibited acts of individuals and establishments on the sale and use of cigarettes and similar electronic devices for the health and safety of the general public.

The ordinance also mandated the creation of a multi-sectoral task force that shall strictly enforce the pertinent provisions of the measure to curb the proliferation of the sale and use of cigarettes and other similar devices in the city. By Dexter A. See

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