La Trinidad mobilizes grandmas in smoke-free drive

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — This valley town is mobilizing grandmothers in its plan to bring its anti-smoking ordinance down to the barangay level.
Dr. Genevieve Degay, medical officer III at the Municipal Health Service Office and head of the town’s smoke-free task force, said they have an information and education campaign that goes on with the enforcement to make people become aware of the anti-smoking ordinance in La Trinidad.
Some 300 barangay officials, barangay tanods (village watchmen), and communication groups, including the La Trinidad Women’s Brigade composed of grandmothers, have been deputized to implement the ordinance.
“For this campaign to materialize, we would want to implement the anti-smoking drive down to the barangay level. That way, there will be a bigger chance of achieving a smoke-free La Trinidad,” Degay said.
Degay explained that the town’s tobacco control ordinance was approved in 2014, but the full implementation was stalled to prepare the public for the drive through an information campaign.
The 2016 presidential election had also put the program on the shelf, she added.
Ordinance 8-2014 aims to safeguard public health and ensure the well-being of La Trinidad’s constituents by protecting them from the harmful effect of smoking and tobacco consumption. This is in line with Executive Order 26 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte to establish a smoke-free environment in public and enclosed places.
The local ordinance prohibits smoking in all public places, all workplaces, and public conveyance.
Violation is penalized with PHP1,500 for the first offense, PHP2,000 for the second offense, and PHP2,500 for the third offense or imprisonment of not more than one year.
The permit to operate of an establishment found violating the ordinance also carries a penalty of revocation, if correction is not undertaken upon discovery of the violation or upon payment of the fine.
“We first had dry-runs. We started the implementation but did not impose penalties or fines and merely issued citation tickets as part of the information campaign,” Degay said.
The enforcement began only in 2017.
So far, she noted, most of those being apprehended for violating the ordinance are visitors, who are not aware of the drive.
The town’s anti-smoking task force also had murals painted on the main thoroughfares to make both locals and visitors aware of the ordinance.
Degay said the town also has an information campaign on the ill effects of smoking, even on non-smokers.
Mayor Romeo Salda said at the sidelines of the town’s second health and environment summit on Wednesday the smoking areas must first be approved by the task force before these are designated as such.
“As of now they have not identified any designated smoking area in the valley,” the mayor noted.
Degay said the smoke-free La Trinidad drive will boost the valley upland town’s tourism.
“Tourists would like to visit a place, where they can breathe fresh air in a healthy and clean environment, and of course, amid a cold climate,” she said.
La Trinidad’s strawberry farms are among the identified tourist sites frequented by local tourists, especially those who visit nearby Baguio City.** Pamela Mariz Geminiano/ PNA

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