‘Dinagyang not an excuse to smoke’

ILOILO City – “The festival is not an excuse to smoke. Leave your smoking paraphernalia at home and enjoy the Dinagyang fully.”

Better heed this advice of Iloilo City Antismoking Task Force (ICAST) director Iñigo Garingalao. Or get arrested.

Since Jan. 2 600 people have been caught violating the city’s antismoking ordinance. They were penalized with fines, according to Garingalao.

There won’t be a let-up in the campaign, even during the Dinagyang Festival, he declared.

Aside from going after smokers, ICAST is also targeting establishments that allow smoking in their premises. Fifteen have so far been apprehended, said Garingalao.

The city’s antismoking czar also said, “We continue our information dissemination on the antismoking ordinance through traditional media as well as social media” such as in schools.

A few minors were arrested for smoking since Jan. 2 unlike in 2019, according to Garingalao. He attributed this to the proactive campaign schools against smoking.

Even foreign tourists won’t be spared from ICAST’s operation, he stressed, as the city braces for an influx of visitors for the Dinagyang Festival, the highlight of which is on Sunday, the ati tribes competition.

The antismoking ordinance also covers vaping.

ICAST will also be checking the Ilonggo Food Festival downtown for smokers, said Garingalao.

The food fest opened yesterday.

During last year’s Dinagyang, ICAST was able to issue citation tickets to around 200 smokers, said Garingalao.

Twenty-three of the 28 organic members of ICAST are being mobilized to enforce the antismoking ordinance. They are supported by policemen.

Under the antismoking ordinance, citation tickets would be issued to violators and a fine of P1,000 would be imposed and/or three days imprisonment at the discretion of the court for the first offense; P1,500 fine and/or five days imprisonment for the second violation; and P5,000 and/or 10 days imprisonment at the discretion of the court for the third and succeeding violations.

Meanwhile, erring establishments or business facilities face a fine of P5,000 for the first offense; one month suspension of business permit for the second violation; and revocation of business permit for the third violation.

For erring (selling cigarettes) individual or business establishments with a capital below P5,000, a fine of P1,000 would be imposed for the first violation; P2,000 for the second violation; and P5,000 for the third offense or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five days or both at the discretion of the court./PN

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