OVER 500 smoking ban violators were nabbed from January to May, while 133 establishments were also caught allowing smoking without designated areas by personnel of the Public Order and Safety Division (POSD) and the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO).

The apprehensions brought P304,300 worth of fines to city coffers.

But while the POSD and the BCPO caught 535 violators, only 198 were able to pay fines. Also, only 58 establishments paid fines for their violation of the Anti-Smoking Ordinance.

Baguio City Councilor Joel Alangsab said efforts to curb smoking has been successful, as restaurants, bars and public spaces in the city have been compliant in restricting smoking in their areas.

Alangsab said the Smoke-Free Baguio Task Force is vigilant in implementing the law, adding that even barangays are joining in the advocacy and limiting small stores from selling cigarettes per piece, making the habit costly and discouraging the public to smoke.

Since January 2018 until May this year, the city earned P2.4 million from fines paid by arrested violators of the city's comprehensive smoking ordinance.

Dr. Donnabal Tubera, medical officer of the City Health Services office, said that based on the data from the city's smoke-free task force, a total of 3,944 individuals and 309 establishments were apprehended for violation of Ordinance 034, series of 2017 or the comprehensive smoking ordinance, which took effect in 2018.

Only 2,081 individuals and 129 establishments settled their fines with the local treasury office, while others opted to render community service and a good number of them refused to settle their prescribed fines.

"The members of the Baguio smoke-free task force will intensify the implementation of the provisions of the comprehensive smoking ordinance to achieve our goal of making our city smoke-free," Tubera said.

Tubera added that individuals and owners of establishments that were apprehended for violation of the ordinance will be sent the required demand letters in coordination with the City Prosecutor's Office or else appropriate charges will be filed against them that could result in their conviction and eventual imprisonment.

The city health official reiterated the need for residents and visitors alike to adhere to the provisions of the city's comprehensive anti-smoking ordinance to avoid paying fines and penalties that could also lead to their being imprisoned, aside from acquiring life-threatening illnesses.

Tubera said members of the city's smoke-free task force remain dedicated in their assigned duties and responsibilities to implement the provisions of the ordinance regardless of who is apprehended just to ensure the protection of the people from the serious negative effects of cigarette smoke.

Individuals caught violating the ordinance may be fined P1,000 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense and P5,000 for the third offense with accessory penalty of imprisonment.

Establishment owners who violate the ordinance face a fine of P2,000, P3,000 ad P5,000 for the first, second and third offenses. (With a report from Baguio City PIO)