Bonjour. Mabuhay.

If you are a non-smoker, we can now finally get some reprieve from cigarette smoke by the new smoking ban set into place in Metro Manila.
Smokers can now only do their thing privately without non-smokers having to deal with it as well.
Here’s some news on this new development:
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Smokers, beware: Starting this Monday, puffing away inside public transport, terminals, and other public places can result in uniformed personnel accosting you and imposing a fine.

Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA? chairman Francis Tolentino said government personnel will only be enforcing what is already in the law to protect innocents from second-hand smoke, which can be as deadly as inhaling directly from a cigarette.

Local government health and environmental sanitation officers, usually accompanied by policemen, will round up smokers starting May 30 — the eve of World No Tobacco Day.

“This enforcement drive is in accordance with the LTFRB’s earlier circulars, which covered public vehicles and terminals,” Tolentino said in an interview on dzBB radio Friday.

He said authorities plan to enforce the anti-smoking laws in loading and unloading areas.

But Tolentino admitted there are gray areas in the enforcement process, such as when motorists smoke from inside their private cars. He hinted the local city ordinance will apply in this case.

“Di maliwanag ang enforcement sa ganitong sitwasyon, pero meron tayong city ordinances na nagsasabing maging ang paninigarilyo sa loob ng private vehicles ay bawal. Pero sa ibang lugar pwede. Sa Caloocan 100 percent smoke-free, sa ibang lugar hindi,” he said.

Tolentino cited Republic Act 9211 (Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003) and the smoking prohibitions of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and all local ordinances and issuances as bases for the new drive.

Violators will be fined P500 on first offense, while those who cannot afford to pay the fine are obliged to render an eight-hour community service, the MMDA said in a news release.

The MMDA said the drive coincides with the observance of the 100% Smoke-Free Environment campaign on Monday and the World No Tobacco Day.

World No Tobacco Day is marked on May 31, according to the World Health Organization.

On Monday, Tolentino and the 17 Metro mayors and LTFRB Chairman Nelson Laluces will officially launch the “100% Smoke-Free Metro Manila” in simple rites at the MMDA headquarters in Makati City.

During Monday’s rites, local chief executives will jointly sign a commitment contract affirming their participation and sustained enforcement of the Tobacco Regulation Act with the end-goal of achieving a smoke-free Metro Manila by 2012.

The MMDA noted New York-based Bloomberg Philantrophies has approved a P9.5-million grant to finance the anti-tobacco use program.

In mid-June last year, the MMDA intensified its no-smoking campaign within its premises as required by a Civil Service Commission (CSC) directive ordering a total smoking ban in all government offices.

“We must be very strict in implementing our anti-smoking regulation. We want the MMDA to become a model government agency in terms of compliance with the CSC policy,” Tolentino said.

Since last year, the MMDA has been conducting a series of advocacy meetings and planning workshops with the 17 LGUs to get them to enact their own anti-smoking ordinances.

MMDA traffic enforcers, members of the Philippine National Police and even those from the LGUs have likewise been trained to enforce the provisions of RA9211.

“We should transform Metro Manila into a smoke-free community. A healthy Metro Manila is a healthy and progressive Philippines,” Tolentino added. — LBG, GMA News

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