Provincial Government to implement Anti-Smoking Ordinance
By Erwin S. Batnag
Bontoc, Mountain Province – To promote the general welfare of its constituents, the Provincial Government of Mountain Province will implement Provincial Ordnance No. 218, “An ordinance prohibiting smoking within provincial government offices and its premises and providing penalties for violation thereof.”
Initiated by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the ordinance aims to promote a healthful working environment, safeguard public health and ensure the well-being of all employees and their clients, protecting them from the harmful effects of smoking.
The ordinance prohibits any person from smoking cigarette or any tobacco product within the provincial government offices and its premises (immediate surroundings of the offices which should not extend beyond 10 meters from the building) including any other building or structures owned or manage by the province except in duly designated smoking areas as defined in the ordinance. It will be noted that electronic cigarette (a.k.a. e-cigarette, personal vaporizer) is not covered by the provisions of this ordinance. An open space designated smoking area is located beside the Pearl Cafe.
Aside from the act of smoking, prohibited acts under the ordinance includes the selling of cigarettes or any tobacco products inside the provincial premises, knowingly allowing or tolerating smoking cigarette products in the provincial government offices and the refusal to allow the entry of the members of the Anti-Smoking Task Force or its duly deputized enforcers into the provincial offices for the purpose of implementing, monitoring, inspecting and enforcing the provisions of the ordinance.
Provincial Administrator and Chair of the Anti-Smoking Task Force, Johnny V. Lausan said that under Section 7 of the said ordinance, the department head or officer-in-charge who knowingly allows or tolerates cigarette smoking in the offices is also liable.
Penalties for the violators of the said ordinance are as follows: A fine of not less than 500.00 but not more than 1000.00 for the first offense, a fine of not less than 1,000.00 but not more than 5,000.00 for the second offense and a fine of not less than 5,000.00 for the third and succeeding offenses.
A citation ticket shall be issued to violators of the provisions of the ordinance. The ticket will state the name, address and office of the violator, the specific violation committed and the corresponding administrative penalty. It will be noted that the security guard on duty and other authorized enforcers have the power to enforce the ordinance, apprehend the violators and issue citation tickets.
Any liable person who is apprehended or cited for violation and who does not wish to contest the violation may opt to pay the administrative fine to the Provincial Treasurer’s Office within three working days from the date of apprehension to avoid criminal prosecution.
Meanwhile, Lausan reminds the department heads and officer-in-charge of their mandatory duties and obligations as stated in the ordinance. Aside from undertaking steps to ensure its strict implementation, they are to ensure that all employees are made aware of the ordinance while also providing procedures for informing clients of the ordinance’s provisions.
Lausan further emphasized the strict implementation of the Anti-Smoking Ordinance. “To avoid inconvenience, smokers are advised to suspend their habit” Lausan remarked.
This recent move is in support to the concerted anti-smoking drive of the national government and its agencies concerned. It will be recalled that the provincial government have earlier demonstrated its attempt through Executive Order No. 23, series of 2014, an order creating a policy of no smoking and no chewing of “momma” at the Provincial Health Office and Administrative Order No. 24 dated December 12, 2014, an order strengthening measures to address the absolute smoking ban in health offices and hospitals.