I welcomed the fact that the local government of Dumaguete has established a Smoke-free Ordinance (Series of 2011) for the “promotion of health and safety of its constituents.” Citing the Local Government Code of 1991 (RA 7160) Series of 2011, the ordinance “regulates the sale, distribution and advertisement of cigarettes and other tobacco products in certain places, imposing penalties for violations thereof and providing funds therefore and for other purposes.” Clearly, this ordinance recognizes the right of every citizen to breathe clean air especially in the work place or in public areas where a number of people converge. It’s also in harmony with the country’s Clean Air Act of 1999.
Most people are aware of the health hazards of smoking. Even those who don’t smoke are in danger of inhaling second-hand smoke especially when exposed to an area filled with heavy smokers. After all, we all breathe the same air. However, as in some ordinances in the country, no strict implementation is in place. No one is monitoring or putting to task violators of this ordinance. At the Rizal Boulevard for example, along the side streets where hotels and restaurants are located, people openly smoke, the nicotine from their cigarettes wafting through the already polluted air. Worse, these people leave their cigarette butts on the streets, mixing with people’s saliva, urine and litter. The cigarette butts are thrown on the streets, clogging the public sewage system. The stench is disgusting. I don’t see any policeman or city government staff monitoring violators and imposing fines/penalties as stated in the ordinance. I also don’t see enough garbage bins on the streets around the city or dumpsters where people can throw their litter.
One way of minimizing this issue is to curb the urge to smoke in public places. Smokers can go to designated smoking areas so other people don’t have to inhale their smoke; they can also smoke within the confines of their homes. However, for those who refuse to abide by the city ordinance and frequently violate it, they will have face the fines and penalties as deterrents.
I understand that some people can’t control their smoking habits. But when they habitually smoke in public places, near the residences or areas that other people live, it’s another story. If we want change for the better, we would have to learn to obey rules and city ordinances. We are not the only ones living in the city. We share the same air with so many other people who deserve the right to clean air. So, may I call on the city government to provide the needed action so we can realize the spirit of this ordinance? It’s for the benefit of all.