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More smokers, drinkers nabbed

Vices Regulation Unit head Dr. Ashley Lopez shows a nicotine pastille products, which will help tobacco dependents quit smoking, during the I-Speak forum on Thursday. Bing Gonzales

The Vices Regulation Unit (VRU), in the first eight months of the year, has already surpassed the recorded arrest on anti-smoking and liquor ban ordinances in the whole year of 2018.

“There is a rise of the number of apprehension this year than last year,” Dr. Ashley Lopez, head of the city government’s VRU, revealed Thursday in an I-SPEAK media forum at the City Hall.

Lopez revealed that 9,300 were arrested in both smoking and liquor ordinances from January to August this year.

The figure is already more than the apprehensions in the whole year of 2018, Lopez said.

Last year, at least 9,000 were arrested.

In the same eight-month period last year, the VRU only apprehended 6,302 violators.

“The increase of the number of apprehensions is due to the intensified campaign on anti-smoking particularly,” he said.

“We have also apprehended some tourists, but we no longer give warning to our foreign visitors because the moment they arrive here, they were already informed—through the airlines, ships, and even media campaign about our laws,” he said.

He added that violators who repeatedly violate the rules will be charged in the court.

“Those who will be apprehended repeatedly will face fines, penalties, and even imprisonment,” he said.

The VRU has implemented a tight enforcement as they roam around the city, particularly on areas where there are a lot of smokers or drinkers.

“We have tapped several support groups and volunteers. We also tapped from the special forces from the PNP (Philippine National Police), including the maritime, and other security forces,” he said.

Lopez also said that there is an increase of vape usage in the city.

“The use of vapes is an excuse to not smoke cigarettes instead, which is actually not supported by the research,” he said.

He said that the fluid used to fill-in the vape has hazardous effect especially in the lungs.

“As reported by the Department of Health (DoH) and other places under the World Health Organization, the liquid that is used is hazardous, especially that it uses preservatives to make it last longer. It can cause bronchitis and pneumonia,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lopez said that these smokers can seek counseling and help to aid their smoking addiction.

Lopez also introduced a product that will help smokers quit their smoking habits.

“One of the products we want to introduce right now is the Nicotine Pastilles, as part of the Nicotine Replacement Therapy, provided for smokers who want to quit. Allocated by the government, therefore, we have some remedy for those heavy smokers who want to quit. This product is also given to those who even smoke vapes,” he said.

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