By Manly M. Ugalde
LEGAZPI CITY --- With the nationwide enforcement of smoking ban that took effect last Sunday (July 23), many Albayanos felt that their former Governor now Rep. Joey Salceda was amply vindicated after being criticized for spending taxpayers’ money to form an anti-smoking logo composed of 12,000 warm human bodies inside the Bicol University to show to the world the Albayanos’ no-nonsense anti-tobacco campaign.
Many Albay citizens hailed their former governor for his serious drive against smoking despite the fact that Salceda himself was a heavy cigarette smoker, consuming 3 packs a day, until the day in 2011 that he signed a local ordinance banning smoking in all public places in the entire Albay province while he was its incumbent governor.
His critics, however, had taken Salceda to task for spending so much taxpayers’ money and resources to form that human logo that caught the attention of the borderless social media and national news networks, but which the governor only took in stride.
Despite the provincial ordinance against smoking, however, Salceda found his campaign hardly being enforced with local executives, especially those in the municipalities, lacking the political will to enforce the local measure.
Making himself as the best example, Salceda quit smoking two weeks before signing his anti-smoking provincial ordinance. Three months after quitting smoking, Salceda called on his former classmate and political ally President Benigno Aquino to quit smoking because doing so would make the president’s frail body improve.
There was this anecdote that in one instance after dining early at Hotel Casablanca, here, the then governor felt the urge of getting back to his old habit of lighting a stick of cigarette, while thinking that there were no other customers because it was still early in the evening. But to the governor’s surprise, the waitress who apparently did not know him in person approached Salceda and pointed to the him the “No Smoking” sign on the restaurant’s wall.
Tabaco City Mayor Krisel Lagman Luistro said that with Pres. Duterte’s signing of the executive order banning smoking in public places, many are forced to strictly heed the order, unlike before when even a police officer was complained of to have been blowing cigarette smokes while at his post inside the police station.