QC exec vows strict enforcement of smoking ban

MANILA Quezon City Acting Mayor Joy Belmonte on Monday vowed to enforce a more stringent ban on smoking in public.

I know some who have died because of vice-related illnesses, and some were just victimized by second-hand smoke. That's the reason why we have a smoking ban but still, there are people whose counter-argument is the loss of profit for bars [and other establishments]. You have to weigh which is more important your profit or the people's health? I think health is more important, Belmonte said in an ambush interview.

You might think it's okay for you, being a smoker, to acquire respiratory diseases, but you're forgetting your smoke can kill the person next to you who doesn't smoke, and it's obviously unfair. Let's also think about that perspective, she added.

Ordinance 1420 has banned smoking in public places in Quezon City since its issuance in 2004.

This version was an amendment of the previous ordinance on smoking ban, which was enacted in 1989.

The acting mayor also kept her ground about penalizing ban violators, saying the city would revisit the existing ordinance for possible revisions to make it more aligned with the Executive Order No. 26 issued by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in May 2017.

We need a mechanism where people can report violations to the smoking ban. And when they report, there should be an immediate response like revocation of business permit or fines to make the ban well-implemented. We will also examine our anti-smoking ordinance since it was made a long time ago. We need to make sure that it is synchronized with EO No. 26, Belmonte said.

At the same time, Belmonte recognized the challenges presented by the ban's enforcement.

The acting mayor said she is willing to know the concerns of owners of bars and establishments if the said ban will affect their businesses.

I haven't really seen any data from the business sector showing that their profit has plummeted because the smoking ban has been enforced, but I have seen data showing deaths have gone down because of the smoking ban, she said.

I am willing to talk to them [if it is true that the ban has affected their profits] but we will not back down. We have the political will to execute it properly because we call our city 'Great, Green and Growing'. Obviously, green means the air also has to be cleaner, so you must be true to the slogan. So I would definitely [enforce a stricter smoking ban], she added. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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