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Cigarette and tobacco products with an estimated value of P2.3M were crushed by city officials led by Congressman Marquez Go, members of the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO), the anti-smoking task force (ASTF), Councilor Joel Alangsab and the Public Order and Safety Division (POSD) after flag raising ceremonies last Monday at city hall.
Destroyed were 183.3 kilograms of cigarettes, 72.5kg of momma (betel nut) with tobacco, 102 pieces of vape juice and 29 vape devices; and promotional devices such as ash trays, tissue holders and display racks, some etched or printed with names of tobacco companies.
According to Council Committee on Health, Sanitation and Environmental Affairs chair Joel Alangsab, the confiscation of said tobacco products were due to violations of selling without permit, selling of cigarettes per stick, selling within 100 meters from absolute ban areas such as church and school/s, open display of tobacco products, and smoking or e-vaping in public places.
Such violations are embodied in City Ordinance 34, 2017 which prohibits the use, sale, distribution and advertisement of cigarette and other tobacco products in certain places.
The advertising materials and objects were also destroyed so as not to influence a person towards using or favoring a certain product, in this case, cigarettes, tobacco or vape products, Alangsab said in this occasion.
The confiscation are implements of violation, and the instruments of the crime are confiscated in favor of the government, Alangsab further said.
The ASTF is now working closely with smokers wanting to give up the habit. Nicotine-easy-quit pastilles worth P178,500 bought from the collected fines and penalties from smokers are being given free. A donation of smoke cessation patches worth P40M from the World Health Organization (WHO) is also distributed to those wanting to quit smoking, Alangsab added.
Alangsab also reported that enrollment to a smoke-cessation program is open. As of record, from a total of 48 enrollees; 5 are successful smoking quitters, 5 who gave up on the program and 38 who are working hard on being quitters.
Recently, Baguio was recognized as top implementor of the smoke-free program and a recipient of the Department of Health Red Orchid award for the past two consecutive years, 2018 and 2019. The city aims to be in the hall of fame with another award in 2021, as the 2020 competition due to the pandemic has been forgone. The red orchid award is for the 100% compliance of smoke-free offices, agencies and public areas.
Also present during the ceremonial crushing is ASTF vice-chair and City Health Services Office head Dr. Rowena Galpo and the Sangguniang Kabataan officers. – Julie G. Fianza