Changes to anti-smoking ordinance get council’s nod

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012


THE 10-year-old Anti-Smoking Ordinance of Davao City got its first major amendment after the City Council on Tuesday approved on third and final reading the New Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance that included regulations on various tobacco-related products.

With no questions asked, all the 24 councilors present during Tuesday's regular session voted for the approval of the very first major attempt to amend the decade-year-old Anti-Smoking Ordinance.

One of the major changes in the new version of the ordinance is the fines and penalties. Should the new ordinance take effect, the following rates will be implemented for violators.

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For fines and penalties, the following are the proposed rates: first offense -- P1,000 or one month imprisonment or both; second offense -- P2,500 or two months imprisonment; and third offense -- P3,000 or four months of imprisonment.

Republic Act No. 9221, otherwise known as the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, imposes higher penalties for those who will smoke in non-smoking areas.

Under the Tobacco Regulation Act, a person guilty of smoking in non-smoking areas will be fined from P500 up to P10,000. Rules have it that a national law should supersede over a city ordinance.

It was in 2002 when the Davao City Government started its campaign for a tobacco-free city after the City Council then passed the original version of the Anti-Smoking Ordinance No. 043-02 and subsequently, to further intensify the ordinance, former Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte issued an Executive (EO) Number 06 in 2009.

Initially, the proponents of the New Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance, which was headed by the chair of the Anti-Smoking Task Force Dr. Domilyn Villareiz, wanted to ban e-cigarettes and shisha in Davao City.

But since they failed to present solid evidences that would prove that e-cigarettes and shisha can cause damage to human health, the council ruled to just regulate the same instead of total ban.

"Walay ma present and City Health Office na mga evidences against shisha ug ana sila wala pa pud daw mga studies about ani (The City Health Office failed to proved that shisha and e-cigarettes can cause harm and therefore, must be banned they also failed to present studies conducted about the items)," said Narcisa Barcelo, local legislative officer of the City Council secretariat.

During the previous sessions of the City Council, several personalities from the City Health Office and various stakeholders were invited to shed light on the health issues of e-cigarettes and shisha.

Jasper Huang, who represented the business sector being him as one of the distributors of e-cigarettes in Davao City, explained before the Council why e-cigarettes should not be banned.

Along with Huang was Jefferson Eisenbath who said that e-cigarettes helped him against his addiction with genuine cigarettes. Eisenbath claimed that e-cigarettes helped him cut his smoking habit.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 26, 2012.

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