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MMDA to help smokers quit habit

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is set to launch mobile cessation clinics to help smokers in depressed areas quit smoking.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said that soon after Independence Day (June 12), the agency will unveil its mobile cessation clinic manned by highly-trained nurses and qualified medical personnel.

The clinic, Tolentino said, will help smokers in poor communities quit the habit by offering free counseling and lifestyle modification tips.

“We can now go around the metropolis offering advice to smokers, especially to those who really want to stop smoking but do not know how, or have no means to seek professional intervention,” he said.

The mobile cessation clinic is a converted bus that will be deployed in areas with the highest number of smoking apprehensions. Apprehended no-smoking violators may opt to be given on-the-spot counseling.

Tolentino said the violators will be shown a 20-minute audio visual presentation that highlights the dangers of smoking and gives easy-to-do tips on kicking the habit.

The MMDA already operates a cessation clinic at its office in Makati City that caters to employees, and has since been strictly implementing its 100 percent smoke-free environment policy.

Since its formal launch in July last year, the MMDA’s anti-smoking drive has netted a total of 31,730 violators, or an average of 142 apprehensions a day.

The Cubao area in Quezon City has the most number of apprehended smokers at an average of 310 a week, followed by Pasay at 230 and Monumento, 177.

Violators are issued an Environmental Violation Receipt (EVR) and fined P500 or required to render community service.

Tolentino said those who opt for community service will now be required to undergo counseling in the agency’s mobile cessation bus.

The MMDA chief said the agency’s anti-smoking drive has encouraged local government units not only in Metro Manila but also in the provinces to enforce their own anti-smoking regulations.

Of the 17 LGUs in Metro Manila, Navotas, Pasig, Makati, Manila, Muntinlupa, Paranaque, and Mandaluyong, have passed and have been implementing its anti-smoking ordinances.

As of June 5, the combined total apprehensions of these LGUs stood at 7,077.

Outside Metro Manila, 41 LGUs from as far as Benguet in the north and Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao are enforcing the 100% Smoke-Free Environment Policy, according to Tolentino.

“Overall, there are 107 LGUs with smoke-free ordinances. Many are still into building capacity for the enforcement,” he added.

Citing medical studies, Tolentino stressed that smoking remains the number one cause of stroke and heart attack, with 50,000 deaths per year.

“Smoking causes more stroke and heart attack than diabetes, hypertension, obesity and high cholesterol,” he pointed out.