Smoking ban violators to be charged for non-payment of fines

THE Bacolod City Anti-Smoking Task Force will file charges against anti-smoking violators who failed to pay fines or to render community service.

Councilor Caesar Distrito, co-chairman of the task force, said that for the month of September, 404 violators, including 65 business establishments, have been apprehended.

City Treasurer’s Office records showed only 50 individuals have paid the penalties.

Distrito said that next week, they will start issuing demand letters to the violators who failed to pay penalties through their respective villages.

“They will be given five days to respond and if they fail to pay or render community service, charges will be filed against them,” he added.

Violators will be fined P500 for first offense; P1,000, for second offense; and P2,500, for third offense.

Distrito said business establishment owners allowing their costumers to smoke in non-designated smoking area will also be fined.

Penalty is P3,000 for first offense; P4,000, for second offense; and P5,000 and possible closure, for third offense.

“Business establishments should put up their own designated smoking areas to avoid violations and penalties,” Distrito said.

Violators can pay their penalties in payment centers at the Bacolod Government Center, Bacolod Traffic Authority Office, and City Health Office compound.

Distrito said that some business establishments appealed their fines, but the decision will still depend on the evaluation of the task force.

“Some of them are asking to allow their customers to smoke, but this is a law that they should follow. As long as the establishment is open, smoking will be allowed, but if it is closed, smoking will be considered a violation unless it is within the designated smoking area,” the councilor said.

He said it is not an excuse that they failed to put up designated smoking area because it is a law.

Distrito added that the Department of Education is also authorized to arrest the anti-smoking violators within the school campus.

The task force is intensifying its monitoring to arrest violators, especially during the MassKara Festival, he said.
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