AMID resistance from tobacco companies and smokers, Mayor Maloney Samaco of Maasin city in Southern Leyte is determined to turn the city into a “No Smoking Capital of the Philippines.”
After bagging the Department of Health- Red Orchid Hall of Fame awards for its comprehensive implementation of 100 percent tobacco-free environment in coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO) for three consecutive years since 2010, the city government’s role in maintaining its reputation is getting more challenging.
“Sometimes we use the iron hand by imposing penalties and closures of some stores who violated our laws,” Samaco said.
Samaco however admitted that the formula for the success of their anti-smoking drive is “just intense education and info drive in schools, barangays, radio and endless meetings on anti-smoking.”
“Maasin is now in the hall of fame for winning three years in a row, but is not about the award. It is about the sincere and determined effort to keep Maasinhons (locals) safe from the dangers of cigarette smoking,” added Atty. Bombom Demeterio, city administrator.
“The city merely and strictly implements the national law,” he said.
According to Demeterio, the mayor had been threatened with lawsuits from tobacco companies. “But so far nothing had been filed,” he added.
Just recently, Samaco closed down three establishments for illegally selling cigarettes within 100 meters from school.
Anti-smoking drive is serious in the city that cigarette advertisements and promotions are prohibited along with mere possession of cigarette lighter like in the city-owned Maasin City College campus.
While smoking is banned in schools, hospital, public places and even in city jail, the city government is also assisting employees who could not quit smoking by requiring them to undergo smoking cessation seminars.
A certificate of non-smoker is also required for all city workers. (Ronald O. Reyes)