LAND Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) released a memorandum circular mandating 100 percent smoke-free public utility vehicles (PUVs) and public land transportation terminals early this month.

LTFRB-Davao announced on January 4 the office's adoption of the "100 percent Smoke Free Police" on the said vans and terminals. This is in pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation.

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The policy requires all holders of Certificates of Public Convenience to observe the Smoking Prohibition in all Public Utility Vehicles and Public Land Transportation Terminals, as well as to prominently post No Smoking signages in their authorized units and premises.

LTFRB states that the policy aims to promote a healthful environment and protect the public from second-hand smoke, to which there is no safe level of exposure.

"Second-hand smoke exposure is a known cause of lung cancer; is known to increase the risks of heart disease; to trigger asthma attacks; and to cause acute respiratory maladies," it said.

The duties and responsibilities of operators and drivers are as follows:

* The operator and the driver of the public utility vehicle shall be responsible for posting the No Smoking Sign.

* The driver of the public utility vehicle shall be responsible for warning the passengers and co-workers who fail to comply with the smoking prohibition and for asking them to leave the public utility vehicle in such cases.

* The operator, administrator, manager, owner and/or possessor of the public land transportation terminal shall be responsible for posting the NO SMOKING sign for issuing and implementing such rules and procedure to ensure that the passengers staying in the public land transportation terminals comply with the smoking prohibition.

Failure to comply with the memorandum circular shall be subject to the following penalties:

* First offense: P500 per month for failure to post the No Smoking signages and other violations

* Second offense: P5,000 fine and suspension of the Certificate of Public Convenience

* Third offense: P10,000 fine and cancellation of the Certificate of Public Convenience

The city's Anti-Smoking Task Force (ASTF) welcomed LTFRB's move.

ASTF co-chair Doctor Domilyn Villarreiz, also Smoke-Free Davao coordinator, said ASTF have been working with LTFRB since last year.

"Drivers violating the Anti-Smoking Laws were reported by the public to LTFRB and appropriate actions were done. (Through this policy) millions of commuting Filipinos will be protected from exposure to second hands smoke as LTFRB strengthens enforcement of Smoke Free Laws in Public Conveyances and Terminals," Villareiz said in a statement. (JZ)