IMPLEMENTATION of the Smoke-Free Baguio Ordinance has begun to gain ground as shown by the marked increase in the apprehension of violators this year.

The Public Order and Safety Division (POSD) of the city mayor’s office reported rounding up 317 violators in February and 206 in the first two weeks of March.

Only 52 arrests were made in January 2017 while a total of 129 violators were apprehended from August to December 2017.

“This time, the POSD teams were allowed to issue citation tickets and this somehow bolstered their confidence in apprehending the violators,” POSD project monitoring assistant Joel Belinan said.

Of those arrested from August 2017 to March 15, 2018, 421 paid the penalty, 174 failed to pay, 93 were turned over to the police and 15 rendered community service.

The report said those who failed to pay the penalty were asked to leave their valid IDs which were made as basis of the lists of violators forwarded to the City Legal Office.

Those who were turned over to the police were the violators who cannot provide any ID and who refused to cooperate.

The POSD elements were operating in the Central Business District (CBD) including the city market, Mines View, Wright Park, Botanical Garden, Baguio General Hospital and Upper Session Road.

Their role as smoke-free enforcers is on top of the POSD’s task to implement laws on anti-peddling, littering, jaywalking, among others.

Ordinance No. 34, which was approved in April 2017,prohibits the use, sale, distribution and advertisement of cigarettes, electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and other tobacco products in public utility vehicles, government-owned vehicles (mobile and stationary), accommodation and entertainment establishments, public buildings, public places, enclosed public places or any enclosed areas outside one’s private residence or private place of work except in duly designated smoking areas.

Violators face fines ranging from P1,000 to P5,000 with options to render community service. (Aileen Refuerzo)