imyeyes-banner-sqIn My EyesBy Edward B. Antonio

IN MY EYES: Inutile laws?

I hate cigarette smoke, fellas.

I am into war mood once I inhaled it.

One time, while driving home via my faithful XRM125, I got stuck in a heavy traffic. I was surrounded by a lot of motorcycles, but what irritated me a lot was the tricycle rider in front of me. He was smoking and  it was a direct hit in my face in spite of my helmet.  I started to get dizzy.

I alighted and asked him politely to stop smoking as I was getting dizzy.

He just stared at me, ignoring my plea. My blood pressure soared.

“I am talking to you nicely, bro, and you seemed to disregard it. Now what do you want? “ I said in anger.

“You don’t have the right to stop me from smoking, this is my life!” he barked.

I pushed him hard, I thought he would fall down.

Cooler heads intervened, but a 40 something man was as angry as I was.

“Kung di ka namang *!#<!!, e pati ako sa likod, hilong-hilo na rin ako sa usok mo! Kung gusto mong magpausok niyan, huwag kang mandamay ng ibang tao!” he shouted, pointing at the man.

My man retreated and when the traffic got cleared, he sped away.

This was just one of the incidents I nearly got into a fistfight, fellas.

Another one was when I went to a mall.

I was about to go inside via the eastern door when a stout old woman (she was leaning against the wall) who looked like a bar girl past her prime suddenly puffed out a smoke. It directly hit my face!

I was again into war mood. I shouted some unpleasant words at her.

“Hoy, wala kang pakialam sa paninigarilyo ko!”

The answer snapped my patience. I decided to go physical.

The guard noticed the altercation. He had been watching us from his door post.

“Sir, huwag, sir. Pasensiya na po kayo. Mrs. alis na po kayo,” he said.

All along these incidents, I was wondering what happened to RA 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 and President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 26 issued on May 16, 2017.

RA 9211 absolutely bans smoking in public places such as centers of youth activity such as schools, preparatory schools, elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities, youth hostels and recreational facilities; elevators and stairwells; locations in which fire hazards are present, including gas stations and storage areas for flammable liquids, gas, explosives or combustible materials; within the buildings and premises of public and private hospitals, medical, dental and optical clinics, health centers, nursing homes, dispensaries and laboratories and public conveyances and public facilities including airport and ship terminals and train and bus stations, restaurants and conference halls, except for separate smoking areas.

Executive Order No. 26, entitled Providing for the Establishment of Smoke-Free Environments in Public and Enclosed Places invokes the Clean Air Act of 1999 and the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 to impose a nationwide ban on smoking in all public places in the country. The order took effect on July 23, 2017, 60 days after its publication in a newspaper.

This EO further prohibits the following:

(a) Smoking within enclosed public places conveyances, whether stationary or in motion, except in Designated Smoking Areas.

(b) For any person to sell, distribute or purchase tobacco products to and from minors. It shall not be a defense for the person selling or distributing that he/she did not know or was not aware of the real age of the minor. Neither shall it be a defense that he/she did not know nor had any reason to believe that the cigarette or any other tobacco product was for the consumption of the minor to whom it was sold;

(c) For a minor to smoke, sell or buy cigarettes or any tobacco products;

(d) Ordering, instructing or compelling a minor to use, light up, buy, sell, distribute, deliver, advertise or promote tobacco products;

(e) Selling or distributing tobacco products in a school, public playground, youth hostels and recreational facilities for minors, including those frequented by minors, or within 100 meters from any point of the perimeter of these places;

(f) Placing, posting, displaying or distributing advertisement and promotional materials of tobacco products, such as but not limited to leaflets, posters, display structures and other materials within 100 meters from the perimeter of a school, public playground, and other facilities frequented particularly by minors, hostel and recreational facilities for minors, including those frequented by them, or in an establishment when such establishments or its location is prohibited from selling tobacco products.

(g) Placing any form of tobacco advertisement outside of the premises of point-of-sale retail establishments; and

(h) Placing any stall, booth, and other displays concerning tobacco promotions to areas outside the premises of point-of-sale locations or adult-only facilities.

The order also restricts and penalizes the act of smoking tobacco products in enclosed public places and it requires that all public buildings or places that are accessible or open to the public regardless of ownership or right to access must be smoke-free inside and within 10 meters (33 ft.) from entrances and exits or where people pass or congregate, and from air intake ducts. This includes but is not limited to government buildings, schools, colleges and universities, offices and other workplaces, restaurants and other food and drink establishments, hotels and other accommodation facilities, hospitals, health centers, clinics and nursing homes, transportation terminals, churches, shopping centers, retail stores and other merchandise establishments, entertainment establishments, sports venues and other establishments that provide professional services.

Public conveyances include buses and jeepneys, taxicabs, tricycles and other public utility vehicles, rail transit, airplanes and ships. The order also prohibits smoking in all outdoor spaces where people gather such as parks, playgrounds, sidewalks, waiting areas, open-air markets and resorts. Penalties range from ₱500 – ₱1,000 for first offense; ₱1,000 – ₱5,000 for second offense and ₱5,000 – ₱10,000 for the third offense.

Now, who says that this law is matino, fellas?

People, young and old, minors and adults smoke in basketball courts, public markets, fastfood restaurants, transport terminals, church vicinities, inside mini-buses, shopping centers, sports venues – practically everywhere, but to this day, I still have to witness a police authority arrest a smoker violating RA 9211 and EO 26.

It seems our authorities are only interested in accosting motorists without helmets and seatbelts.

Now, if you don’t call these two laws inutile, what fellas? #