No smoking in public vehicles, terminals to be fully enforced

By Lilita Balane, Newsbreak

Posted at Jan 13 2010 01:41 PM | Updated as of Jan 13 2010 11:59 PM

Drivers, operators who can't stop smoking passengers face fine, cancellation of franchise

Tired of commutes where you have to cover your nose to avoid second-hand smoke from another passenger? A new rule from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) may just provide you the relief.

The agency, in an effort to protect the public from tobacco smoke, issued a memorandum that orders public transport drivers and operators to put “No Smoking” signs inside vehicles and terminals starting January 7.

Second-hand smoke, emitted by a smoker or a lighted cigarette, is four times more toxic than the smoke puffed from direct smoking, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported.

The WHO’s 2009 Global Tobacco Epidemic Report estimated that 600,000 people around the world die from second-hand smoke every year. It identified lung cancer and heart disease as health problems attributed to second-hand smoke.

Where to place signs

With the LTFRB’s new rule, public transportation operators are obliged to affix “No Smoking” signs at the entrance or waiting areas of their terminals.

Drivers, on the other hand, should place signs that are at least 3.5 square inches in height at the back of their windshields, and at least 10 square inches long inside their vehicles in spots visible to the passengers.

Drivers and operators are also responsible for commuters who would violate the 100% smoking ban in public vehicles and terminal. If they fail make smoking passengers comply, they could be fined up to P10,000 and have their franchises canceled.

Though the memorandum does not identify who would apprehend the violators, the LTFRB says that it will partner with other government agencies to fully enforce it.

Local government effort

A tobacco control law that provides for a “smoke-free public conveyances and terminals” has been in place since 2003. However, many drivers and violators are able to skirt the smoking ban because there’s no specific agency tasked to monitor them.

Apprehension of violators usually depends on who the local governments assign to oversee the implementation of the smoking ban. The city governments of Makati, Pasig, and Davao, for example, have established their own anti-smoking task forces.

The Pasig city government, for example, mandates their Green Police to catch violators, mostly jeepney drivers, who are found smoking in public areas.

However, local government units that follow the Tobacco Regulation Act or Republic Act 9211 have difficulty implementing it given the limited funding. Earlier, Newsbreak reported that P300,000 to P2 million were spent yearly to sustain the LGUs' anti-smoking drive. (See Smoking ban in most LGUs unsuccessful )

While RA 9211 also allows the designation of a smoking area near a non-smoking area so long as the place has proper ventilation, the LTFRB’s directive states that smoking areas “shall not be designated in any indoor or outdoor area that is near entrance or exits or near place where people congregate.” (Newsbreak)

Related story:
Smoking ban in most LGUs unsuccessful