Nueva Vizcaya's "smoke-free" ordinance gets support
by Ben Moses Ebreo
Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya (November 9) -- Nueva Vizcaya's "Smoke-Free" ordinance recently received strong support from the officials of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines(FCAP) following its launching Monday here.
"This is the start of putting premium in health? and the best and cheapest way to do this is through preventive means. A smoke-free policy will not cost you anything but Nueva Vizcaya will surely benefit from it," said Rommel Arriola, FCAP regional coordinator for Luzon.
Arriola, speaking on behalf of Dr. Maricar Limpin, FCAP executive director also praised the provincial officials headed by governor Luisa Cuaresma and vice governor Jose Gambito for the passage of the landmark bill.
"We are very lucky that our officials are working for our own welfare. They are really working because they love us," he said.
Arriola however warned local officials that while the ordinance fights for the rights of everyone, tobacco companies will do their damndest way to sway them not to implement and enforce the law.
He said most countries who have passed the same law were also targeted by tobacco companies and blaming them for their laws as these will allegedly kill the source of livelihood among tobacco farmers.
"But look at them.. the tobacco industry still thrives strongly up to now even in countries who have bigger lands devoted for tobacco farming even bigger than our country like Brazil, Thailand, Malawi and others, their tobacco industry still continues," Arriola stressed.
He further noted that reality showed the deception of tobacco companies since they are only protecting the interest of their business by exploiting the tobacco farmers.
Known as Ordinance No 2010-049 or "Smoke-Free Ordinance of Nueva Vizcaya", the measure prohibits smoking in certain public places, including public conveyances and imposing penalties for violations.
Authored by former board member Edgardo "Edu" Balgos, the measure which was approved in March this year will be initially implemented within the provincial capitol, deputizing the provincial security guards to stop and report violators of the law.
The Calderon Compound and the back of the People's Hall have been identified as Designated Smoking Areas(DSAs).
The ordinance carries the following offenses and penalties for violators: P1,500 fine for the first offense, P2,500 for 2nd offense and P5,000 for the third.
As a component of the measure, the anti-smoking program in the province is funded by the Bloomberg Foundation under the Fourmula 1 agenda of the Department of Health (DOH).
It is expected to be implemented in full in 2011 with the allocation of at least P.4 million recently by the Provincial Development Council (PDC).
With the "Smoke-Free" ordinance, Nueva Vizcaya became the first province in the country to locally adopt and implement the anti-smoking law. (PIA NVizcaya) [top]