By Mar Supnad
SAMAL, Bataan — While a local court has ruled that the anti-smoking ordinance in Balanga City was unconstitutional, about 300 senior high school students in this town pledged recently to steer away from smoking during the Tobacco-Free Generation (TFG) Symposium held at the covered court, here.
Dr. Koong Heng Nung, TFG founder, said that one of their movement’s goals is to encourage a new generation of people who will never smoke and who will engage in a tobacco-free community.
“It is our job to support you because you represent the people’s wishes and we hope that you can make a better world without being influenced by the industry,” Koong said.
This town, like Balanga City, has already passed an ordinance banning smoking in public places but is expected to be affected by a regional trial court (RTC) decision, which rules that parts of Balanga ordinance are unconstitutional.
Vice Mayor Aida Macalinao pointed out that the objective of their anti-smoking ordinance is to protect the health of the people. She said the ordinance is legal and based on the Local Government Code.
“The point here is that we crafted the anti-smoking ordinance, following the death of a number of people who are chain smokers,” Macalinao said. She added that there is a need to appeal the decision of the court.
Despite this setback, Bataan 2nd District Rep. Joet Garcia remained steadfast that the challenged ordinance, enacted pursuant to Balanga’s objective to promote the general welfare and the Constitutional policy of the State to protect and promote the right to health of the people, will be upheld in the end once they appeal the decision.
Commenting on the effect of the RTC decision, Rep. Garcia stressed: “It is, perhaps, the constitutionality of selling cigarettes that should be re-examined, instead, since it is addictive and causes death, and thus, against the right to life.”
“I think it’s a showcase of how your community can come together and show to the world that Bataan can bring a solution to a problem that communities failed to fight,” Nung added.
During the forum last Friday, participating students signed a commitment wall to never smoke.
TFG is a social movement that advocates against tobacco use among the youth.