One of my first blog entries when I decided to create one in Friendster (not ashamed of admitting that I was once a member in this social networking site) was about my strong disapproval of smoking in public places.
The new anti-smoking campaign of Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) should also be adopted by local government units or implemented by the Philippne National Police (PNP) throughout the country. They should designate limited smoking areas in business establishments and public areas to make it difficult for smokers to indulge in their socially and environmentally irresponsible habit so that they would be forced to quit. This vice is not an excuse nor a good alternative for those who seek comfort or relief from distress or whatsoever. They should look deeper into themselves to understand things better instead of shifting their attention into something that is actually harmful. Everyone deserves to live in a pollution-free environment. If the Land Transportation office (LTO) with the help of the PNP is working hard to control smoke belching vehicles, the Department of Health should also consider promoting a smoke-free country or at least smoke-free public areas in the entire nation.
The MMDA should make the fine higher and impose tougher penalties on further offenses. I have nothing against fines as long as the MMDA would spend the money in some worthwhile projects but compelling the violators to render community service would be better. The latter would not only produce direct and immediate results but it would also prevent corruption in government offices.
Below is one of the top listed online news regarding this philanthropic cause.
Manila: Philippine President Benigno Aquino, a smoker, will abide by the campaign of a government agency that will enforce a smoke free Metro Manila, reports said.
“We don’t have any problem with that [new ruling of the Metro Manila development Authority or MMDA],” spokesperson Abigail Valte told the Inquirer.
Friendly arrests will be made on people who smoke on public places, said MMDA chair Francis Tolentino on Monday, during the launch of MMDA’s “100% Smoke-Free Metro” at MMDA Makati headquarters.
About 17 city mayors and municipal councils have agreed to cooperate with MMDA’s campaign to implement a wider no-smoking drive to cover the whole of Metro Manila, said Tolentino, adding that MMDA will campaign about the wide anti-smoking ban for the whole month of June and those arrested would only be reminded about MMDA’s campaign.
“Metro Manila will be a smoke-free community in 2012,” said Tolentino adding, “A healthy Metro Manila will mean a healthy and progressive Philippines.”
The campaign included Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chair Nelson Laluces because the campaign would include no smoking in buses that play major and minor thoroughfares.
MMDA will ban smoking on transport terminals, loading and unloading bays, pedestrian passes, schools, hospitals, youth recreation centers and government offices; and areas 100 metres away from public areas.
No-smoking warning signs will be placed in major roads, said Tolentino.
“Our aim is to protect the rights of the nonsmokers,” Dr. Loida Labao-Alzona, head of MMDA Health Public Safety and Environmental Protection, said in a radio interview.
“We want to reduce the risk of secondhand smokers from getting cancer,” Alzona explained.
MMDA’s anti-smoking drive coincided with the World No Tobacco Day on May 31. True arrests of violators will begin in July.
In a new ruling, violators will be fined P500 (Dh41.66) on first offense; those who could not pay the fine will render eight hours of community service, said Tolentino.
MMDA has been a recipient of a P9.5 million (Dh791,666) anti-tobacco grant from the New York-based Bloomberg Philantrophies.