With the city government’s effort to completely eliminate smoking as part of its campaign in making Davao City a smoke-free city by 2022, the Vice Regulation Unit (VRU) has seen an increase in the number of apprehended violators.
From January to December last year, about 14,008 apprehensions were recorded by the VRU, with 12,650 of which underwent counseling sessions apart from the penalty fee being imposed to the violators.
This figure is a bit higher compared to the number of violators apprehended in 2018 with 9,521 apprehensions and 7,799 individuals counseled and fined.
Meanwhile, a total of P8,864,405 were collected last year by the VRU from the fines paid by violators on both the anti-smoking and liquor ban strictly implemented by the authorities. Of the figure, P6,339,205 came from the collection from the anti-smoking violators apprehended while P2,325,200 were from fines imposed on liquor ban.
VRU head Ashley Lopez told TIMES in an interview yesterday the increase is primarily due to the additional law enforcers integrated and deputized to implement the law.
He said one reason is because of the number of enforcers deployed in various districts of the city.
“As you all know, Davao City is a very big city. There are many alleys, streets and establishments that could not be covered by police alone,” he said.
Ordinance No. 0367-12 or the Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance of Davao City was first implemented in 2002 under then city mayor, now President Rodrigo Duterte.
The ordinance strictly prohibits anyone to smoke in public places, government-owned vehicles, accommodation and entertainment establishments -such as bars and hotels. It also prohibits smoking in workplaces, enclosed or partially enclosed public places, and public buildings.
“That is why we are coming up with several groups and volunteers that would augment the enforcement of the Anti-Smoking Ordinance in Davao City.”
Lopez noted that enforcers are working almost 24/7, stressing that before, the apprehensions were only on a particular time.
“Before, enforcers can barely apprehend once a week. Sometimes, they just do it during weekends as this is peak time for people to smoke and drink,” Lopez said.
Today, he added, enforcers of the anti-smoking law are visible in the city, anytime. The Vice Regulation Unit has a total of eight administrative personnel, while there are around 70 deputized personnel deployed in the field. Additional enforcers also comes from auxiliary group from the city’s security sector and more than 3,000 Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel who are automatically deputy direct enforcers of anti-smoking ordinance and liquor ban in the city.
Lopez said, however, that even with the implementation of the law, it doesn’t mean that it would automatically or immediately stop individuals from smoking as it needs further supplemental interventions.
“Some people are surprised that we have really strictly implemented the Comprehensive Anti-Smoking, since apprehension should now be lower. That is not the case,” he said.
“Those (smokers) whom you know quit, just stopped temporarily. But when they get back to their homes, they go back to smoking… Why? Because there is no intervention given to the patient,” Lopez added.
The VRU head said those who have been smoking for a long time, (rigorously), is already considered as a medical disorder – nicotine dependence or nicotine addiction. If nicotine addiction of a person cannot be countered, he cannot stop immediately.
Lopez said the apprehension they do particularly in public places is just one of the steps to clear out smoking in public places, “so as not to affect children, passersby, and elderly who do not want the smoke.”