AT LEAST 13 individuals were apprehended by the La Trinidad Municipal Police Station violating the Anti-Smoking Ordinance from January 2-5.

Officer – in – Charge Chief of Police S/Insp. Benson Macli-ing said they had been consistent in the information and dissemination campaign about the full implementation of the ordinance since December last year.

Eleven of the arrested were tourists while only two residents of the valley were apprehended according to Macli-ing.

"They were caught on the act of smoking cigarettes. Three persons have accepted the community service as penalty while the two locals and eight tourists have decided to pay the fine," he added.

Macli-ing said those committed to community service have their names submitted to the Municipal Environement and Natural Resources Office (MENRO).

According to MENR Officer Art Pedro, they assign the violators for clean up drive activities at the trading post, Balili River, clean along the national highway and clean the flower boxes and others to be named by other offices needing community services.

In addition, Macli-ing said public places have the "No Smoking" signs and warnings.

The police officer added violators admitted they are either not aware of the ordinance, have not read the sign, or just can't quit smoking.

“A team of patrollers composed of seven personnel from the office are apprehending these violators, exclusive of police deployed around the town who may also arrest violators,” Macli-ing emphasized.

The Municipal Ordinance authored by Councilor Roderick Awingan regulates smoking, selling, distribution and advertisement of tobacco products prohibited under Section 5 such as, smoking in any part of any enclosed or partially-enclosed public place, work place, public conveyance or other public places ; selling or distributing tobacco products to minors, schools, public playground, or any other facilities frequented by minors or within a 100 meter-radius; purchasing tobacco products from minors; using, buying or selling tobacco products by minors; placing, posting, distributing any type of tobacco advertisement such as leaflets, posters and similar material outside business establishments; and placing cinema and outdoor ads of tobacco products.

Persons liable specified in Section 8 are individuals who commit the prohibited acts mentioned above, persons in charge who unknowingly allow, abet or tolerate those listed acts or who otherwise fail to fulfill duties and owners/managers of establishments non-compliant with designation of smoking area.

Penalties are at P1,500 for first offense, P2,000 for second offense and P2,500 for third and subsequent offenses with imprisonment of up to one year or both, at the discretion of the court.

Establishments violating the ordinance will be meted suspension of license or permit, confiscation or removal of tobacco advertising and closure of the establishment.

Minors violating the ordinance will be dealt with in accordance with the Children in Conflict with the Law Ordinance. Drivers and operators of public conveyances will also be penalized while government officials or employees caught violating the ordinance including administrative sanctions.