Smoke Free Task Force conduct inspections of establishments near schools

BAGUIO CITY – The Smoke-Free Baguio Task Force started inspections of sari-sari stores and other establishments near schools Monday to check whether these are complying with city ordinance no. 34, series of 2017, that prohibits the use, sale, distribution and advertisement of cigarettes and other tobacco products in certain places, imposing penalties and providing funds thereof.

The task force is composed of representatives from the health services office (HSO), police department, permits and licensing, public order and safety division, information office including barangay officials.

Among the establishments inspected by the team were those located in the vicinities of Baguio Central School, Dona Josefa Elementary School, Pines City National High School, Quirino Elementary School, Dona Aurora Elementary School, SLU-Aurora, and others.

The group found many of the establishments in the said areas to be in violation of the ordinance and will be recommended to be penalized.

Under the measure's provision on sales, access restriction, advertising and promotion ban, violators are fined P2,000 for the first offense; P3,000, second offense; P5,000, third offense; and for subsequent offenses, imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months or both at the court's discretion including suspension or revocation of business license or permit if applicable.

HSO medical officer Donna Tubera said the daily inspections are in support of the Department of Education's on-going Brigada Eskwela Program and will continue until June 2. Majority of schools in the city are scheduled to start classes on June 4.

She said the measure prohibits the selling, advertising and promotion of cigarettes or other tobacco products including e-cigarettes 100 meters from any point in the perimeter of schools, playgrounds, facilities for minors, health facilities, and other similar facilities.

Approved last year by the city council, the Smoke and Vape Free Ordinance authored by councilor Joel Alangsab aims to safeguard public health and ensure the wellbeing of all its constituents by protecting them from the harmful effects of smoking and tobacco consumption.

The measure makes it unlawful for any person to smoke or allow smoking in public utility vehicles, government owned vehicles or any other means of public transport for passengers, accommodation and entertainment establishments, public buildings, public places, enclosed public places or any enclosed area outside of one's private residence or private place of work except in duly designated smoking areas.-gaby keith

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