The city will be imposing stricture regulations on the permitted operation of the designated smoking areas (DSAs) of business establishments to abate the possible surge in the number of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases that will come from the same similar to what previously transpired in the DSAs of business process outsourcing (BPO) companies in the city.
Cecile Agpawa, Project Leader of the Smoke Free Baguio, stated that part of the restrictions that will be imposed on allowed DSAs will be the reduction of the occupancy of the same to only 50 percent to ensure their compliance to the prevailing protocol on physical distancing.
Further, she claimed that there will be posters that will be available in the DSAs stating among others that no talking will be allowed in the area aside from the time limit that will be allowed for smokers to do their thing in the DSAs.
Agpawa called on business establishments that want to put in place their DSAs to already submit their applications for the same so that it will be included in the first batch of DSAs that will be inspected by the city’s smoke free task force to ascertain their compliance to the stringent rules and regulations for allowed DSAs.
Earlier, the city ordered the temporary closure of the DSAs of BPOs following the surge in COVID cases among call centers where one of the areas that was identified that caused the transmission of the virus among their ranks were the DSAs as the health and safety protocols were not observed when people converge in the said areas.
Ordinance No. 34, series of 2017 or the city’s comprehensive anti-smoking ordinance requires establishments to have their designated smoking areas that are situated in open spaces that are separate from their existing structure.
The Smoke Free Baguio official pointed out that the permits of the DSAs are renewable that is why owners of business establishments should ensure that they will be able to renew the permits that were issued for their respective DSAs to prevent them from being imposed the penalties appurtenant thereto.
She disclosed that the members of the smoke free task force will be scheduling the inspection of the proposed DSAs of business establishments anytime, thus, owners of businesses wanting to have their own DSAs should already submit their applications for the said purpose so that their businesses will be included in the list of applicants that will be inspected for approval of the operation of their DSAs.
According to her, the Smoke Free Baguio will remain steadfast in the strict enforcement of the pertinent provisions of the anti-smoking ordinance to achieve the overall objective of eventually making the city smoke free because of the serious negative effects of smoking to the health of the smokers.
Moreover, the task force will also remain aggressive in its information and education campaign to help smokers to quit smoking and live a better life after doing so. By Dexter A. See