“By the power vested in me as city mayor of Tacurong City, I, Lina O. Montilla, declare Tacurong City a Smoke-Free City.”

These were the words of the city mayor during the launch of the Smoke-Free ordinance on February 28, Friday at the city hall grounds.

The event began with a motorcade and parade participated by different public and private sectors in the community.

More than 30 agencies/organizations have shown support during the launch, including: the different divisions of the local government unit of Tacurong; the 20 Punong Barangays with their constituents; National Government Agencies;  Tacurong City Police Station;  Task Force Talakudong; CVO/TRACER/EORA; 33rd IB; 601st IB; RPSB; BFP; BJMP; RTC; City Prosecution Office; PAO; Rotary Club of Tacurong and Rotaract Club of Talakudong; Senior Citizens/Girl Scouts of the Philippines; Tricycles/Operators/Drivers’ Association (TODA); Chinese Chamber; Runners’ Club; Tacurong Bikers’ Association; SUKELCO; SKWD; PMA; PDA; TAMAVA; Amoil Clinic; Radyo Natin FM; Prime FM; and the different high schools and colleges within the vicinity of the city.

During the parade, participants were required to pick up cigarette butts along the parade route in exchange for prizes. This is to encourage a cleaner environment and a healthy living by eradicating the effects of cigarette smoking.

Francisco Y. Mateo, MD, MPH, OIC Assistant Regional Director of DOH XII, said that passing the smoke-free ordinance is a manifestation of the LGU’s strong commitment to provide its people with a healthy environment. He thanked the city council for coming up with a law that shall protect the health of its constituents, with emphasis on the next generation. He further shared that this move from the city is pertinent to the Department of Health’s “Pilipinas Go4Health” movement for a healthy lifestyle.

The author of the smoke-free ordinance, Hon. Psyche M. Sucaldito, presented the salient features of the legislation to increase the public’s awareness. Under the passed ordinance, no individual or establishment shall be allowed to smoke except in designated smoking areas permitted. E-cigarettes are also prohibited. Also, no minor shall be allowed to purchase, distribute, or sell cigarettes. Individual violators of the ordinance shall pay 500.00, followed by a counselling session with the City Social Welfare and Development Office. Establishments found violating are to pay 1,000.00 (1st offense), 3,000.00 (2nd offense), and 5,000.00 (3rd and subsequent offenses).

Dr. Efraim Collado (Asst. City Health Officer) and Mr. Asher Moral (Supervisor, South Tacurong District), former cigarette smokers, shared their testimonies during the program. “Kung kaya ko, kaya nyo rin,” said Dr. Collado as he shared his struggle to quit smoking for a better lifestyle.

Esperanza Municipal Mayor Helen Latog also shared their LGU’s experience in enforcing the town’s anti-smoking ordinance which was passed in 2011.

Participants also signed the pledge of commitment as a symbolic act of support to the city’s endeavor. Winners of the on-the-spot poster making contest held in the morning of February 28 were also awarded during the program.

Mayor Montilla added that this ordinance would only be successful if there is a strong partnership with the constituents to make the city a healthier place to live in especially for the youth and the children.

A post-valentine smoke-free concert followed the launch with performances from the 6ID Band and the Tacurong City Band. (LGU-Tacurong City Information)