Davao City bans smoking, including ersatz cigarettes

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: Davao City passed a strict ordinance against smoking in public places and the law now prohibits even the use of so-called electronic cigarettes.

The new law, which takes effect on Friday, will also have a hefty fine of up to P5,000 and jail term for violators of the “New Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance of Davao City.”

While the ordinance is popular among nonsmokers and health advocates, cigarette vendors and the tobacco industry would be affected by the law, aside from loss of government revenues.

But the ordinance is aimed at making Davao a smoke-free city.

Among those also banned under the ordinance is the use of shisha or hookah or water pipe that are traditional in many Persian or Arab restaurants. Smoking is also banned in outdoor concerts, rallies and parades and public gatherings, and so in public buildings and offices, cemeteries, market places and bus and jeep depots.

But smokers may still enjoy their addiction to cigarettes in the comfort of their homes and private vehicles.

It was not immediately known if the ordinance would apply to foreign dignitaries or even President Benigno Aquino 3rd, who is a known smoker, if they visit Davao City.

In Zamboanga City, council member Myra Abubakar has proposed a similar law, but many of her colleagues and even Mayor Celso Lobregat are known smokers themselves.

The proposal is popular among the locals and the ordinance is likely to get the support of the new Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar, who is a known health advocate.

Health officials said smoking is the leading cause of cancer and deaths not only in the Philippines but around the world. Second-hand smoke is more dangerous to human health.

Al Jacinto

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