Davao gets millions in anti-smoking fines

DAVAO CITY — The Davao City Anti-Smoking Task Force collected almost P1.5 million in fines from local tourists after they were caught lighting up in public areas for the period January to November 2014.

The amount could have reached almost P22 million if all the 4,396 violators were able to pay the fine of P5,000 each. Those who failed to do so are facing criminal charges in court.

“We have intensified the implementation of the anti-smoking ordinance but local tourists still smoke in public areas,” said Dr. Domilyn C. Villareiz, co-chairperson of the Anti-Smoking Task Force.

The number of persons apprehended was 19% higher than the 3,690 recorded in the same period the previous year.

Ms. Villareiz noted that the violations are not due to lack of awareness of the city’s regulation, but “those who are already addicted to smoking will take the risk of being caught.”

The Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance of Davao City was first enacted in 2002, a year before Congress approved the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, and was expanded in 2012 to include all tobacco products such as e-cigarettes and shishas.

The fine was also increased to the current P5,000 from P2,000.

Specifications for designated smoking areas in commercial and business establishments were also amended to 10 meters from entrances and exits with an area not larger than five square meters.

Ms. Villareiz urged both domestic and foreign tourists to comply with the city’s ordinance to avoid the fine as well as the required counseling that has to be done within Davao City.

According to data from the Department of Tourism, more than 1.4 million tourists, mainly local, visited Davao City in 2013 and the city government was aiming for a 10% increase in 2014.

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