BAGUIO CITY – The local government earned P2.4 million from fines paid by arrested violators of the city’s comprehensive smoking ordinance from January 2018 to the present.
Dr. Donnabal Tubera, medical officer of the City Health Services office, reported that based on the data from the city’s smoke free task force, a total of 3,944 individuals and 309 establishments were apprehended for violation of Ordinance No. 034, series of 2017 or the comprehensive smoking ordinance of the city that took effect last year.
Of these apprehended individuals and establishments, only 2,081 individuals and 129 establishments settled their fines with the local treasury office while others opted to render community service and a good number of them refused to settle their prescribed fines.
The medical officer noted there has been a significant improvement on the compliance of individuals and establishments to the provisions of the ordinance prohibiting smoking in the city although there is still a need to sustain awareness-raising and barangay-based enforcement of the rules and regulations to address smoking in the city’s barangays.
“The members of the Baguio smoke-free task force will intensify the implementation of the provisions of the comprehensive smoking ordinance to achieve our goal of making our city smoke-free,” Tubera stressed.
She revealed most of the apprehended individuals who continue to evade settling their fines are from the city while those who are willing to settle their fines are visitors who do not want unnecessary delays in their stay in the city and in going back to their places of origin.
According to her, individuals and owners of establishments that were apprehended for violation of the ordinance will be sent the required demand letters in coordination with the city prosecutor’s office or else appropriate charges will be filed against them that could result to their conviction and eventual imprisonment.
Tubera reiterated the need for residents and visitors alike to adhere to the provisions of the city’s comprehensive anti-smoking ordinance to avoid paying fines and penalties that could also lead to their being imprisoned, aside from acquiring life-threatening illnesses.
She underscored that members of the city’s smoke free task force remain dedicated in their assigned duties and responsibilities to implement the provisions of the ordinance regardless of who is apprehended just to ensure the protection of the people from the serious negative effects of cigarette smoke.
Individuals caught violating the ordinance may be fined P1,000 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense and P5,000 for the third offense with accessory penalty of imprisonment while establishment owners who violate the ordinance face a fine of P2,000, P3,000 ad P5,000 for the first, second and third offenses.
By Dexter A. See