MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte,(PIA) — Convenience stores that continue to sell cigarettes here in this no-smoking city, in open defiance of a national law and local ordinance, had one thing shared in common: they were served closure notices and were padlocked.
City Mayor Maloney Samaco did just that, hammer and nails in handy, to prove he meant business, and over the last four months or so, ten (10) sari-sari stores within city limits and outskirts experienced having been closed, the closure notice prominently displayed.
Most of the stores had since reopened after having paid the penalty of P 5,000.00 and a strong resolve to never again hawk the puffing thing under pain of another sanction. So far, no outlet was tagged as repeat offender.
“We exercise maximum tolerance. We called the concerned owner after having conducted initial moves to serve as evidence, warning and appealing them to stop the practice. If these were unheeded, then we closed the stores,” Mayor Samaco told PIA last week while conducting a closing operation in barangay San Rafael and Soro-Soro stores.
On Wednesday, October 15, another two stores were similarly paclocked, one in sitio Tuburan, barangay Tunga-tunga, witnessed by Punong Barangay Boy Panelo, and another one at barangay Canturing witnessed by Kagawad Abigail Cerro.
Previous closures were also witnessed by barangay leaders, it was learned.
The move to close commercial stores selling cigarettes was part of a strategy to cut the supply even as demand for smokers are still felt, Samaco said during the Action Center Kapihan sa PIA Cable TV program Tuesday.
Told that those who are still smoking are asking the city government to provide a place where they could puff, Samaco quoted a statement of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, an anti-smoking advocate like himself, as saying smokers can only smoke at the top of Mount Apo and Samal Island.
But in Maasin, Samaco paraphrased it, saying smokers can only smoke in the confines of their private place.
Meanwhile, colorful photos on the ill effects and the resulting diseases caused by smoking had been posted in conspicuous places around the city for all to see and be warned, the pictures so graphic and telling, and enough to send the message for smokers to quit the habit. (ajc/mmp/PIA8-Southern Leyte)