Changing environment – BusinessWorld

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VSOVID-19 has been bringing suffering and death to the whole world for over a year now. As a result, many of us have gone through some form of lockdown or quarantine; have lost an acquaintance, friend or family member to the virus; or have fallen ill ourselves because of the COVID itself or the hardships it has brought about. We have all been affected in one way or another.

But our COVID situation has also had positive attributes. COVID has forced us to rethink our priorities and put more emphasis on health care and workplace safety. We have also seen a greater acceptance of remote work or work from home, and the growth of the community of cyclists and people seeking the comfort of large, open spaces.

Just recently, as I was walking around the village of Salcedo in Makati City, I was pleasantly surprised to see bicycle racks around the corners, with signs indicating that bicycle parking is free, although ‘it is “park at your own risk”. Bicycle owners are also reminded to ‘lock it or lose it’. And, more importantly, the parking spaces cannot be used by “electric bikes or motor vehicles”.

Kudos to the Makati City Government, the Makati Commercial Estates Association (MACEA), and anyone else who may have been involved in the arrangement of the bicycle parking spaces. This is a good way to encourage more people to cycle, in accordance with the new law which requires the establishment of safe bicycle lanes across the country.

All over the village, signs have also been installed to remind all motorists that it is forbidden to wait or park in clearly marked red zones. Violators risk a fine of 3000 P. Signs have also been installed to remind all motorists not to “go against the grain”, violators being liable to a fine of 2000 P. While the signs are gentle reminders, expensive fines are not. I just hope the restrictions are strictly enforced.

What is more encouraging is the fact that the “no parking / illegal waiting” and “no cross-traffic” signs indicate the restrictions – as defined by the Makati City Highway Code in 2003 – apply to cars, motorcycles, bicycles and scooters, among others. In short, it applies to all forms of transportation, including personal mobility devices. Again, I hope the restrictions are strictly enforced and violators will be fined.

But, beyond traffic orders, another step in the right direction for Makati, MACEA and perhaps the Makati Parking Authority is to put “no smoking” and “no vaping” signs on sidewalks. from the city. It is, I believe, an initiative that deserves recognition and support. Besides its public health benefits, it is also an anti-waste initiative.

With the ban on smoking indoors and in other closed public places, many smokers have taken to the streets to indulge their vice and literally made the sidewalks their ashtrays. Many workers take their breaks outside their buildings just to smoke, which has made the central business district dirtier. Many smokers especially congregate outside convenience stores.

Banning smoking and vaping on sidewalks can help create a cleaner, healthier city. More than that, it helps ensure public safety given the continued threat posed by COVID-19. Second-hand smoke from smokers and vapers is scientifically known to transmit the coronavirus to non-smokers. It’s bad enough that cigarette smoke is annoying, but now it’s also become even more deadly.

I was a smoker, as were many journalists of my generation. But I quit at 38 and haven’t smoked since. I now consider smoking, or even vaping, a danger to public health. While I respect individual freedom and people’s right to choose, I also believe that we must strictly follow the new restrictions on smoking, especially in public places.

And given the increased threat of COVID-19, smoking and vaping should be banned in all public places, including outdoors. On the one hand, smokers and vapers remove their masks when they smoke or vape. Current restrictions say people should always wear masks – and face shields – when outside their homes.

Second, second-hand smoke from cigarettes as well as electronic cigarettes are known to possibly transmit the novel coronavirus further than usual. It’s bad enough that smokers are already killing themselves and those around them with their smoke. But COVID-19 has made cigarette smoke worse. Transmission of the virus is also possible with e-cigarette vapor.

As airborne particulate matter expert Loren Wold, PhD, noted in a report from Healthline, “When a vaping cloud is exhaled, it contains a huge amount of particles… What we don’t know no, that’s how far the particles can go. . We know that the virus can attach itself to particles and travel three, four or five times farther than it would just by being in the air. “

Normal breathing itself can already spread the disease, Healthline noted, which is why face masks are recommended to prevent viral particles from spreading freely through the air. Smokers often breathe out more forcefully, which means the particles they push out of their lungs can travel even further, noted Wold, director of biomedical research at the College of Nursing and associate professor at the Colleges of Nursing and Nursing. Ohio Medicine. State University.

Dr Len Horovitz, pulmonology specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, added: “The cloud [from the exhaled smoke or vapor] gives you a very good idea of ​​how far you need to go. As for cigarette smoke, Healthline reported, according to Dr. Horovitz, if you can smell it, you’re probably too close.

Healthline also noted that studies by the National Institutes of Health indicate that second-hand smoke can remain in the air for several hours and travel up to 20 feet. And here we think no more than 15 minutes in an enclosed space, and a distance of at least six feet from each other, would suffice. Banning smoking and vaping in all public spaces, including sidewalks, is a step in the right direction.

Marvin Tort is a former editor-in-chief of BusinessWorld and a former chairman of the Philippine Press Council

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