Justice Secretary Leila De Lima encouraged the public to strictly adhere to the law banning smoking in public places.
Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9211 (Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003) prohibits smoking in the following public places: centers of youth activity; elevators and stairwells; locations in which fire hazards are present, including gas stations; public and private hospitals; public conveyances and public facilities; and food preparation areas.
De Lima issued the statement in the wake of four convictions secured by the Legazpi City Prosecutor's Office on four different individuals for Violation of Section 5(a) of City Ordinance No. 0007- 2009 (The Revised Smoke Free Ordinance of Legazpi City).
In separate Judgments, the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branch 1, Legazpi City found Juan Joseph Monson, Mark Louie Balonzo Maceda, Antonio Bellen Baraquiel, Jr., and Angel Araneta guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating the said law.
Presiding Judge Arlinda Gratil-Resari sentenced the four to pay a fine of P500 each.
In the decisions, Monson was issued a citation ticket for smoking "near the carenderia at the sidewalk of Mabini Street in Legazpi City, a place accessible or open to the public and for collective use." On the other hand, Maceda was caught smoking at the covered walkway of Landco Business Park; Baraquiel, at Lakandula St., Bonot; and Araneta near the LTO Field Office along Balintawak St., Old Albay.
The Secretary explained that "the smoke ban was implemented to safeguard the health of the general public. So when smokers are penalized, the purpose is not to persecute them but to entice them to be health conscious."
Under RA 9211, the DOJ Secretary is a member of the Inter-Agency Committee-Tobacco (IAC-Tobacco), which have the exclusive power and function to administer and implement the provisions of the said law.