Baguio’s anti-smoking drive sets sights on BPOs

BAGUIO CITY — Baguio City’s anti-smoking enforcers are setting their sights on Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies.

Anti-smoking task force head Dr. Donnabel Tubera told the Philippine News Agency on Tuesday that all establishments in the city would be checked for compliance with the city’s smoking ban ordinance, but the focus would be on BPOs at least for this week.

Tubera said the effort is to curb the chronic smoking problem prevalent among BPO workers.

She said smoking addiction is one lifestyle vice that often causes health problems.

Encee, a BPO employee in one of the call centers in the city, said his work schedule and the various challenges he and fellow BPO workers face, such as the constant pressure of meeting deadlines and certain metrics, pushes him to smoke, especially at work.

The city government started implementing its Smoke-Free Baguio ordinance in May 2017, in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 26, which provides for smoke-free establishments in public and enclosed places.

Baguio’s Ordinance No. 34 series of 2017 designates certain smoking areas, which must be located in open space outside a building, with no permanent or temporary roof or walls, and not located in or within 10 meters from entrances and exits of any establishment.

Tubera asked for the business establishments’ compliance with the laws to avoid penalties or cancellation of their permit to operate.

Together with the Peace and Order and Safety Division (POSD) of the city government and the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO), the task force holds regular spot inspection to compel establishments to comply with the “Smoke-Free Baguio” ordinance.

Tubera lamented that compliance with the ordinance is low among Baguio establishments.

Mababa ang compliance rate ng mga establishments dito sa Baguio. Ang hinihinigi lang natin sa kanila ay mag-comply (The compliance rate of establishments in the city is very low. All we ask of them is to comply with the law),” she noted.

Tubera said Baguio’s anti-smoking task force had apprehended 1,384 violators as of May 2018, a year after the ordinance took effect.

“Now the challenge is to have a centralized hotline, so that people can immediately report violators and soon we will be addressing that matter,” she added. Pamela Mariz Geminiano/