Convenience stores told to give up selling cigarettes or refreshments

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/31 December) –The Anti-Smoking Task Force will intensify implementation of the city’s anti-smoking policy next month as it warned owners of convenience stores to give up selling of cigarettes or refreshments.

Dr. Domilyn Villereiz, co-chair of the Anti-Smoking Task Force told the Kapehan sa Dabaw early this week that selling both violates the provision of the City Ordinance 0367 or the New Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance.

Under Section 3, all establishments classified under accommodation and entertainment or “establishments that provide food, accommodations, drinks, merchandise, entertainment or other professional services” are not allowed to sell cigarettes.

“That power wall for cigarettes is a form of advertisements. The minors going to the convenience stores will see that,” she said.

She added that stores located within 100-meter range from schools are also prohibited from selling cigarettes.

Villareiz said the agency has been very active in enforcing the ordinance, as they issued a total of 5,220 citation tickets to violators this year. Last year, around 14,000 citation tickets were issued.

Under Section 9, first-time offenders will be fined P1,000 or one month imprisonment or both at the discretion of the court. For second offense, a penalty of P2,500 or two months imprisonment while third and subsequent offenses will be fined P5,000 or four months imprisonment.

The ordinance prohibits smoking in public conveyances, government-owned vehicles, accommodation and entertainment establishments, workplaces, encloses public places, public buildings, and public outdoor spaces such as cemetery, markets, and terminals.

However, the city allows smoking in designated areas, provided they are located in an open-space with no permanent or temporary roof or walls in an outdoor area and shall not be located within 10 meters of entrances, exits or any place where people pass or where people congregate.

Also, a designated area should not have an area larger than five square meters and the ordinance allows only one designated area per establishment. The selling of food and drinks is also not allowed in designated smoking areas.

The ordinance mandates establishments to have “a highly visible and prominently displayed ‘smoking area’ sign and a graphic depiction and corresponding explanation of the ill-effects of smoking to the smoker’s health or exposure to secondhand smoke. Under no circumstances shall any work, device, word or image associated with any tobacco company or product be included in any of these signs and materials.”

The agency reported a total of 1,325 establishments inspected from January to December 2015 while there were 47 stores issued with permits to sell cigarettes and 38 stores prohibited to sell cigarettes due to its proximity to schools.

The task force noted a total of 287 newly-approved smoke-free establishments while 17 establishments have an approved designated outdoor smoking areas. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)