City gov’t alarmed by spike in anti-smoking edict violators

By John Noel E. Herrera

The Iloilo City Government is alarmed by the increase in the number of violators of the city’s anti-smoking ordinance.

Iloilo City Anti-Smoking Task Force (ICAST) director Iñigo Garingalao said that there has been a spike in the number of apprehended violators from May to October 2022 with over 6,000 violators fined and issued citation tickets for using either traditional cigarettes or vapes (electronic cigarettes).

Data from ICAST indicated that task force agents and Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) personnel apprehended 5,938 cigarette smokers and 433 e-cigarette smokers from May to October 2022, higher compared to 4,058 cigarette smokers and 98 vape smokers who were apprehended and fined in the same period in 2021.

Garingalao noted that while conventional cigarettes are used by all ages, the age group that usually uses vapes is 18 to 28 years old. The number of women smokers also increased this year.

He also debunked the idea that e-cigarettes is safer than conventional cigarettes, as it is misleading and not true.

“Ang vape ukon e-cigarette nga nahimo subong nga daw uso, indi siya gingamit para nga maka-amat-amat ang tawo untat panigarilyo kundi another way nga mag-propagar sang bisyo sang pagpanigarilyo,” he said,

Garingalao also cited the easing of health and safety protocols in the city, as well as the agency’s intensified monitoring and operations as some of the reasons for the increase in the apprehension of illegal smokers.

The ICAST director also asked the help of all barangay officials in the city, as well as the schools, to strengthen the campaign against illegal smoking and for students to stay away from vices like smoking.

The Iloilo City Anti-Smoking Ordinance penalizes individuals caught smoking in prohibited places with P1,500 and/or three days imprisonment at the discretion of the court for the first offense; P2,000 and/or five days imprisonment at the discretion of the court for the second offense, and P5000 and/or 10 days imprisonment at the discretion of the court for the third offense.

Establishments without designated smoking areas or allow smoking in non-designated areas are fined P2,000 on the first offense, P3,000 second offense, and P5,000 or the cancellation of their business permit on the third offense.