(Metro News) MMDA puts cigarette bins on designated smoking areas

October 26, 2011 10:15 pm 

MANILA, Oct. 26 — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has started putting up cigarette bins along major thoroughfares where smokers can smoke and throw away their cigarette butts.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said that the cigarette bins are 55-gallon drums cut in half and filled with sand and will be placed strategically at designated areas, about 10 meters away from bus loading/unloading bays.

The measure is in line with the Tobacco Regulation Act that mandates administration of places not covered by the absolute smoking ban, to designate smoking areas.

Tolentino appealed to the public not to move, dislodge, or throw any other kind of trash into the bins.

At least 29 bins will be placed along EDSA particularly in Baclaran, Pasay, Magallanes, Ayala, Buendia, Estrella, Guadalupe, Megamall, Santolan, Cubao, Kamuning, Quezon Avenue, Oliveros, Muñoz, and Monumento.

Thirteen bins will be put up along the stretch of Commonwealth Avenue, particularly in Philcoa, UP University Avenue, Diliman Prep, Ever Gotesco, IBP Road, St. Peter’s Church, Ayala Technohub, Central Avenue, and Don Antonio.

MMDA chief said that smoking is prohibited in waiting sheds so smokers must go to the nearest cigarette bin where they could smoke.

The agency’s Health, Public Safety, and Environmental Protection Office is tasked to place the cigarette bins to ensure that cleanliness is maintained at the designated smoking areas.

In related development, Tolentino expressed dismay over reports that a writ of preliminary injunction was issued on Tuesday by Mandaluyong RTC Branch 21 Judge Carlos Valenzuela, ordering the Authority to refrain from apprehending violators of the Tobacco Regulation Act in places not within the law’s coverage.

"We remain steadfast in our anti-smoking efforts despite the injunction,” the MMDA chief said adding that as of October 21, the agency had apprehended 10,912 anti-smoking violators.

Section 5 of the Act prohibits smoking in public places such as centers of youth activity, including schools, elevators and stairwells, locations where fire hazards are present, within public and private hospitals and other medical facilities, public conveyances and facilities such as transport terminals, train and bus stations, restaurants and conference halls, and food preparation areas.

The law also requires the establishment of smoking and non-smoking areas in all enclosed places open to the general public, private workplaces and other places not covered by the absolute prohibition, where smoking may expose a person other than the smoker to tobacco smoke.

The MMDA, with its mandate to uphold public health and anti-pollution, is steadfast in its efforts to minimize the deadly effects of smoking.

“Everyone deserves to breathe clean air. We have done so, and shall continue to do so, in accordance with the parameters set by the law,” the MMDA chief said

“Our campaign is supported by the Department of Health, local government units in Metro Manila and beyond, the Philippine Medical Association, and so many other individuals and associations who believe in a healthy and smoke-free environment. The public knows more about the pernicious effects of smoking. Other local government units, even outside of Metro Manila, are launching their own anti-smoking campaigns,” Tolentino said.

The MMDA Chairman said that the Agency's anti-smoking efforts were also in line with worldwide sentiments, citing the May 2011 United Nations Report of the Secretary General on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) that non-communicable diseases have reached epidemic proportions, and smoking is one factor attributable to this.

“We are truly very grateful that other groups have joined the campaign against smoking in public places. This alone is a testament that we are doing the right thing,” Tolentino said. (PNA) DCT/RMA/CLTC

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