Environmentalists Back MMDA’s Intensified Drive vs. Smoking

The Metro Manila Development Authorities (MMDA) has found another ally in its campaign to rid the metropolis of harmful cigarette smoke and litter.

After the Philippine Medical Association vowed to send doctors to the streets to inform the public about the hazards of smoking, environmentalists from the EcoWaste Coalition followed suit with a plea urging all caring citizens to rally behind the call for a “smoke-free,” as well as “litter-free,” Metro Manila.

“We join the MMDA in their strong-willed campaign to make the national capital region safe from tobacco pollution. We appeal to the general public to support this initiative that seeks to protect the public health and the environment from toxic smoke and litter,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We laud the MMDA for its smoke-free campaign as this will protect our right to health as enshrined in the Constitution and in various international instruments on human rights,” added Dr. Maricar Limpin, Executive Director, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines ( FCAP).

Both the EcoWaste Coalition and FCAP expressed confidence that Metro Manila’s 17 local government units (LGUs) will actively back the smoke-free goal for Manila by 2012 as this will help in preventing tobacco-related diseases among residents as well as transients.

This will further help in reducing the volume of toxic-laden cigarette butts that are recklessly tossed onto streets and street gutters, canals and rivers, the groups said.

“If cigarette butt receptacles are to be provided, we caution the LGUs not to accept donations from tobacco companies as they will only use this to gain some advertising mileage,” the groups said.

“LGUs must not fall into the ‘green washing’ trap by tobacco companies, which directly flouts our commitment under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC),” they said.

The FCTC, which the government ratified in 2005, specifically requires state parties to legislate and implement a comprehensive ban on TAPS, or tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

The metrowide ban on smoking in public places commences today, July 1, after a month-long information drive that saw MMDA environmental enforcers issuing warnings to 8,792 violators.

According to the latest available data from the agency’s website, the MMDA has also apprehended 49,807 litterbugs as of June 27, 2011.