GenSan heightens drive vs smoking in public places

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/01 August) — Environment and police personnel here have renewed their crackdown against smoking cigarettes in various public places and establishments.

Valiente Lastimoso, chief of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro), said Tuesday they have assigned additional teams to monitor public areas for the presence of smokers or violators of the city’s comprehensive anti-smoking ordinance.

He said the teams were tasked to conduct surprise inspections and enforcement activities in line with the provisions of Ordinance No. 6.

“We’re doing the enforcement activities even at night and we already penalized some establishments for violating it,” said Lastimoso, who also heads the city’s Anti-Smoking Task Force.

Last week, he said they penalized a 711 convenience store for “allowing smokers in non-designated smoking areas.”

He said they found cigarette butts at the extension area of the store, which was slapped with a fine of P1,000.

Under the ordinance, individuals caught smoking in public places will be fined from P1,000 – P3,000. Business establishments that fail to comply with the provisions of the ordinance, especially on the designation of smoking areas, will face a P1,000-P5,000 fine.

Also covered by the ban are government-owned vehicles and public transport.

The new anti-smoking ordinance makes permitting, abetting, tolerating, or knowingly allowing smoking in the restricted areas as unlawful. Violators will be penalized for it.

It will also be unlawful to obstruct or refuse the entry of any member of the Anti-Smoking Task Force or its deputized enforcers into places covered by the ordinance.

Lastimoso acknowledged that the enforcement activities, which started in January last year, have slowed down these past months.

But he vowed that there will be no let-up with their campaign this time to complement with the implementation of the nationwide smoking ban.

The national government started the nationwide ban last July 22 on smoking in all public places and establishments based on the provisions of Executive Order No. 26 issued by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“Expect that we will continue with our intensified enforcement activities, especially at night,” Lastimoso said.

He said the task force has received numerous text messages from concerned residents regarding violations by some establishments that operate 24/7.

“Just be careful because we will not stop until our residents would be disciplined about it,” he said.

For his part, Sr. Supt. Romeo Ruel Berango, city police director, said he has directed the city’s police precincts to continue with their patrols and anti-smoking enforcement activities.

Since last year, he said their personnel and units already arrested 166 violators of the ordinance.

“Rest assured that with the implementation of the new law (EO 26), we will even intensify our enforcement operations,” he added. (MindaNews)