TWELVE percent of smokers in Baguio City are youth, according to the Baguio City Anti-Smoking Task Force.
Doctor Donnabel Tubera, City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit head and Anti-Smoking Task Force chair, explained in the weekly Kapihan sa Baguio that although they consider the implementation of the ordinance to be successful, there are still smokers, particularly the youth.
“We were able to decrease the prevalence of smoking in the city both in the young and in the adults from 34 percent before the creation of the ordinance which covers fifteen years old and above to 17 percent after the implementation. We did a study last October 2019 and the prevalence among 13 to 15 years old is from 21 to 12 percent so we are successful in terms of the decrease but not successful because there are still 12 percent young smokers,” Tubera said.
The task force earlier trained 405 enforcers operating not only in the central business district but in the barangays.
“As of August 2019, the city collected P4.5 million in fines from smoking violations which is considered as strict implementation by the enforcers with 10 percent of this going to the enforcers as incentives, while the remaining 90 percent will go to tobacco control programs. The age of access to cigarettes is 18 years old so what we are trying to do know is to increase the age of access from 18 to 21 years old which we are advocating in the city council,” the health specialist stated.
The Smoke Free Baguio ordinance prohibits the use, sale, distribution, and advertisement of cigarettes and other tobacco products in certain places and imposing penalties for violations.
The ordinance amended Ordinance No. 8 of 2008 is anchored on the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; Local Government Code of 1991; the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999; Civil Service Commission Memorandum circular (MC) 17, 2009; Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board MC 2009-036; and the Civil Service Commission-Department of Health joint MC 2010-01.
“In other countries, the age of access is 25 – years – old while in our advocacy, it is 21. Why do we want it at 25 or 21? It is because it is about the maturity of the brain, the impulse control which is still not matured below age 21. And our next goal is to really come up with a tobacco free generation wherein even if someone is 21 – years – old, he or she will not have access to cigarettes which have been successful in Bataan wherein all those born in the year 2000 will not be sold with cigarettes,” Tubera explained.
Meanwhile, the task force have received information coming from the barangays of tobacco posters allowing some stores to sell cigarettes by the stick.
“We were able to call the attention of the Department of Trade and Industry because there was a line there saying that if you have any questions you go to DTI. We raised the issue to Councilor (Joel) Alangsab, went to DTI and verified that poster wherein the DTI said it was not theirs. So again, Baguio City does not allow the selling of cigarettes by the stick,” Tubera added.
Violators of the ordinance as to smoking or vaping would have P1,000; P2,000 and P3,000 penalties, or imprisonment, or suspension or revocation of business license, if applicable; and violation of the ban for advertising and promotion would be meted P2,000; P3,000 and P5,000 penalties.
Imprisonment, suspension or revocation of business license or permit could be done in such cases.