Albay passes smoke-free ordinance, save P186M health costs annually

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Photo courtesy: WN / Renzelle Mae Abasolo
Photo courtesy: WN / Renzelle Mae Abasolo

LEGAZPI CITY (05-June-12/PNA) – Albay province has passed its own version of an anti-smoking law, taking another decisive stride in its green campaign designed to promote public health and protect the environment.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, a staunch campaigner for health, the environment and climate change adaptation noted that based on estimates by the Provincial Health Office, SP Ordinance No. 10-2012, now referred to as Albay Smoke Free Ordinance, could also help save annually P186 million in household expenditures.

Salceda last week signed the ordinance “regulating the use, sale, distribution and advertisement of cigarettes and other tobacco products.” The ordinance hits two birds with one stone — health and environment protection, which are also the tenets of the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

The governor is UN spokesperson for MDG and climate change adaptation of which the world body declared him as its Senior Global Champion.

Salceda said the ordinance affirms Albay’s commitment to responsible health practices. “Protecting the environment and promoting best health practices are not just the responsibility of the government. These also require the collective effort of the Albayanos and more importantly, require a change in the way we live and are accustomed to,” he said.

The new measure toes the line of an earlier law passed by the province, the Anti-Plastic Ordinance, which implementation starts June this year. The two ordinances will work hand in hand to promote the welfare of both the people and the environment, Salceda said.

The Anti-Smoke ordinance was co-authored by Board Members Arnold Borja and Neil Montallana and had been thoroughly discussed in committee and public hearings many times, and was unanimously passed by the Albay provincial board.

Salceda said the ordinance finds strong support from the Local Government Code of 1991 (RA 7160), which provides that every local government unit has the power and authority to promote the general welfare… including the promotion of health and safety among its constituents.

It applies to all persons, whether natural or juridical, whether resident or not, in the three cities and 15 municipalities of Albay. If sustained, the initiative that if continued could benefit the future generations of Albayanos, he said.

Under the ordinance, smoking areas and non-smoking areas with signs in both English and Bicol will be duly designated provincewide. The measure penalizes violators P500 for the first offense, P 1,000 for the second offense and P 3,000 for the third and subsequent offenses. (PNA)

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