NEWLY ELECTED PRESIDENT Noynoy Aquino may be reluctant to stop smoking but I hope local governments with effective anti-smoking rules will not ease the ban just because the Chief Executive cannot drop the bad habit.

A few weeks before the elections I started to get worried that, with Jejomar Binay stepping down as mayor of Makati, whoever would replace him would not be as diligent in implementing the 2003 anti-smoking ordinance. I saw several jeepney drivers plying Manila-Makati routes smoking even inside Makati.

After the ordinance was passed, a commuter could easily tell when a public utility vehicle had left or entered Makati. Often, as soon as he entered Manila, a driver who smoked would light a cigarette and probably smoke while inside the city. But the moment he entered Makati territory again, he threw away his cigarette.

I do not know if Makati traffic enforcers were just giving drivers a smoking holiday before the elections but I hope newly elected Mayor Jejomar Erwin ?Jun-jun? Binay Jr., who was one of the ordinance?s signatories as a councilor, will make sure the regulation remains strictly enforced. After all, Makati has earned international praise for the effective implementation of this ordinance.

For the sake of nonsmokers, the ordinance requires drivers of public utility vehicles in the city to post the sign ?No smoking as per City Ordinance No. 2002-090? in their vehicles. A fine of P1,000 will be imposed for the first offense, P2,000 for the second and P3,000 or imprisonment for 3-6 days for the third offense.

Unless a building is declared ?absolutely smoke-free,? smoking may be allowed in designated areas, which should be ?physically separate from the declared smoke-free area, equipped with effective and strong ventilation so that smoke emanating therefrom does not drift, permeate, or re-circulate into any smoke-free area.

?Physical separation requires that designated smoking area must be fully separate from smoke-free area by continuous floor-to-ceiling walls, which are interrupted only by doors which must be constantly closed? except when people are coming in or out. Nonsmokers should check if their buildings are in compliance with this requirement.

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