While many residents of other cities are choking to the smell of cigarettes light almost everywhere, people in Davao City has been enjoying a smoke-free environment for the last ten years.
No wonder the city has been cited as a model of a community successfully kicking a deadly habit. From a distance, we can only see tobacco companies gnashing their teeth as buyers of their products are prime candidates of getting fined, if they light up at prohibited areas.
The no-smoking campaign had been in the city’s ordinances in the past but they didn’t have enough teeth until a comprehensive approach was kick started with the passing of the Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance by the city council in July 2002 under the leadership of then Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Shortly after its passage in the council, Duterte formed the Anti-Smoking Task Force to execute the ordinance.
Davao City prohibits smoking at public areas such as inside government offices, restaurants, schools, among others.
“Davao is fortunate to have government leaders who prioritize the health of the people and have the political will to support and enforce a comprehensive and stringent anti-smoking ordinance,” SEATCA Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Program Manager Dr. Domilyn Villarreiz said.
Following in Davao City’s footsteps are other Southeast Asian locations, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Malaysia’s Malacca, known for its 17th century Dutch buildings; Laos’ Luang Prabang, recognized for its traditional architecture; and Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, famed for its ancient temples.
More than 40 locations in the Philippines are also looking to become smoke-free, according to SEATCA. Until these locations are successful in implementing such law, Davao will remain as the only shining star in the country’s crusade against the hazards of tobacco.