THE Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has taken its campaign against smoking to another level as it opened a smoking cessation clinic to help those who have difficulty quitting their smoking habit.
MMDA General Manager Corazon Jimenez said the clinic, which is located at the agency’s main office in Orense, Makati is now offering medical and psychological support to those who want to kick the habit.
“The clinic which is staffed by two doctors and nurses is ready to provide counseling and lifestyle modification tips so that they can quit their smoking habit,” Jimenez said, adding the latest initiative would complement the MMDA's continuing crackdown against smoking in public which was implemented since last year.
But Jimenez clarified that they would not force anyone who enters the clinic to quit smoking adding that in the end, the decision to quit should be left to him or her.
“On our part, we will give you advice, counseling on how to quit smoking,” the official said even as she admitted that it cannot be done in one session alone.
Earlier, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino lauded their anti-smoking drive, saying despite some snags, including the injunction issued last year by a Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court (RTC) stopping the agency from apprehending smokers in areas not covered by the prohibition of Republic Act 9211 or the Tobacco Regulations Act.
“Our unified campaign has raised public awareness on the pernicious effects of smoking,” Tolentino added.
He noted that local government units outside the metropolitan area also initiated their own anti-smoking programs soon after the MMDA started its no smoking apprehensions.
The MMDA said their “environmental enforcers” have apprehended a total of 21,193 smokers since start of the crackdown last year.
The number according to Tolentino means that the agency and the 17 local government units (LGU) in Metro Manila have never waved in their campaign even in the wake of an injunction issued by Mandaluyong City RTC Branch 213 Judge Oscar Valenzuela prohibiting the apprehension of smokers caught puffing smoke in areas not covered by RA 9211.
RA 9211 absolutely bans smoking in public places such as centers of youth activity, elevators and stairwells, locations where fire hazards are present, within the building and premises of hospitals, clinics, health centers, nursing homes, dispensaries and laboratories, in public conveyances and food preparation areas.
It also requires the designation of smoking and non-smoking areas in enclosed places open to the general public, public and private workplaces and other places where smoking is not absolutely prohibited but where smoking may expose a person other than the smoker to tobacco smoke.
The MMDA designated smoking and non-smoking areas in public vehicle loading and unloading bays. The agency enforces the total smoking ban on stairwells such as those on pedestrian footbridges.
The intensified drive against smokers came on the heels of a study by the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (Gats) showing that 17.3 million Filipinos are smokers.
The survey also said that the number of Filipinos exposed to second-hand smoke number around six million.
A 2009 study conducted by the National Statistics Office's Family Income and Expenditure Survey found out that residents of Metro Manila spend a staggering P4 billion on tobacco products annually.
With these grim statistics, calls for chain-smoking President Benigno Aquino III to spearhead the campaign and quit has grown but the bachelor president rejected it, saying it is one of the ways he relieve stress in his job. (AH/Sunnex)