DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 August) — The Anti-Smoking Task Force (ASTF) has proposed imposing stiffer fines for violators of the comprehensive anti-smoking ordinance to attain the local government’s goal for a smoke-free city.
Dr. Domilyn C. Villareiz, co-chairperson of ASTF, said fines would be increased to P1,000 for first offense, P2,500 for second offense and P5,000 for third and subsequent offenses, from the current fines ranging between P500 and P2,000.
“The violators should also undergo smoking cessation counseling in accredited clinics,” she said.
The increase in penalties and the need to undergo the counseling in accredited clinics are among the proposed amendments to the comprehensive anti-smoking ordinance.
The proposal dubbed the “New Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance of Davao City” was filed yesterday and was referred to the committees on health and rules, privileges, laws and ordinances.
The anti-smoking ordinance was passed in 2002.
Aside from the higher fines and counseling, Villareiz said the amendments include a ban on the use of emerging tobacco products in non-smoking areas such as e-cigarettes and shisa.
Smoking will be disallowed in all enclosed or partially enclosed places. Designated smoking areas, meanwhile, should be located in open spaces without permanent or temporary roof or walls upon the approval of ASTF.
The proposal, she said, further “allows the city mayor to commission enforcers other then the Philippine National Police who shall have the power to apprehend violators and issue citation tickets.”
Section 10 of the proposed new comprehensive anti-smoking ordinance provides for a no contest provision. It means individuals caught smoking in prohibited places “shall be allowed to pay a penalty in the amount of P500 with the City Treasurer’s Office to avoid being criminally prosecuted within three days from apprehension.”
The no contest provision is for those who are willing to pay voluntarily the administrative penalty. Its proceeds will be placed in a trust fund for the promotion and advancement of the anti-smoking campaign of the city.
City Legal Officer Osmundo P. Villanueva Jr., vice chairperson of the ASTF, explained earlier in an interview that the no contest provision is to give options to the violators to “pay a fine rather than being indicted.”
“The scheme is actually akin to that adopted in our solid waste management ordinance wherein violators may choose to settle by just paying the fine,” he said. (MindaNews)