MAYOR Nicholas Yulo said the City Government will start next week the full enforcement of the Comprehensive Smoke Free Ordinance of Bago City.
At present, the City Government is in the “soft implementation” of the ordinance, which means that violators are just given warnings.
Yulo said that beginning next week, stricter penalties will already be imposed.
“Our ordinance is just a reflection of the national law. In Bago City, we have not received any opposition from business and other sectors,” he added.
Launched on November 5, Yulo said City Ordinance No. 17-03, regulating the use, sale, distribution and advertisement of cigarettes and other tobacco products in Bago City, will not hugely affect businesses in the locality.
Yulo said that cigarettes have no major role on the sales of local establishments as well as on the city's revenue collection.
He pointed out that sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products are only regulated.
“There will be minimal impact but we will not compromise the health of our constituents,” the mayor said, adding that what the City Government is considering is the ordinance’s long-term effects.
Through this ordinance, the medical cost for all diseases related to smoking will go down thus, government's expenses for hospital and healthcare units will also be lesser.
The ordinance stated that Bago City recognizes that local governments must act with urgency to denormalize the culture of smoking and tobacco consumption through comprehensive and proven effective tobacco control measures.
Its purpose is to safeguard public health and ensure the well-being of all the constituents by protecting them from the harmful effects of smoking and tobacco consumption.
The local law also aims to provide support and conducive environment for tobacco users to quit, it added.
Yulo said the ordinance is "restrictive" especially in terms of identifying and providing designated areas for smoking.
Under which, designated areas should be an outdoor space duly approved by the City Health Officer where smoking and vaping may be allowed.
It should meet requirements like location must be an open space outside the building with no permanent or temporary roof or walls in an outdoor area; not located within 10 meters from entrances and exits or any place where people pass or congregate; it shall not have an area larger than 10 square meters; food and drinks are not served here; no building shall have more than one designated smoking area; and minors should not be allowed inside.
Designated areas should have signage visible and prominently displayed like "Smoking Area" with "Minors not allowed within these premises" and graphics health warnings in the effects of tobacco use.
Also, it shall not be located in places where absolute smoking bans are in effect, like, but not limited to schools, youth hostels, and recreational facilities for persons under 18 years old.
In terms of selling, Yulo said establishments, including those inside the city public market, cannot display publicly and prominently cigarettes and other tobacco products.
"Only the exposure of the commodity is regulated. Meaning, establishments can still sell," he added.