Philippines' Duterte gets tough on tobacco with ban on smoking in public

Henrietta Strickland
May 20, 2017

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order that will impose a wide-ranging ban on smoking in public, reinforcing some of the toughest anti-tobacco measures in Asia.

The Order also reinforces the Republic Act (RA) No. 9211, or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, which "prohibits the purchase and sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to and by minors and in certain places frequented by minors".

The smoking ban also covers "vaping" or the use of electronic cigarettes and will apply in casinos, including gaming floors and entertainment rooms, and inside airport buildings, except in designated outdoor smoking areas.

More than a quarter of Filipinos smoke, according to a 2015 World Health Organization report, including 11% of minors.

Duterte had made his campaign vow to impose a nationwide smoking ban similar to what has always been implemented in Davao City, where he served as mayor for over two decades. Although, Duterte himself a heavy smoker but, he quit smoking when, he was diagnosed as suffering from Buerger's disease that can cause blockages in the blood vessels.

Under the new law, tobacco can not be sold within 100 meters (330 feet) of schools, playgrounds or anywhere that children might gather.

The EO, however, still allow smokers to puff cigarette in designated smoking areas (DSAs). "No smoking" signs are to be posted in all public places.

Duterte also ordered the creation of a smoke-free task force in all cities and municipalities to help carry out the provisions of the order.

The ban is one of the region's strictest anti-tobacco laws and mimics the 2012 ordinance Duterte created in his hometown of Davao City, Reuters reported.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella also confirmed that Duterte already signed the EO.

Gangs of vigilantes have taken seriously the president's call to slaughter addicts.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier hoped the EO would be issued by the end of October 2016, or before the full implementation of the Graphic Health Warnings Law.

The PTI lobby group said it agreed with the new rules.

It added that the public and workers in places where smoking is allowed are most at risk from these and other tobacco-related disease.

"This is a victory for us", said Maricar Limpin, executive director of Action on Smoking and Health Philippines.

In addition, ordering, instructing or compelling of a minor to use, light up, buy, sell, distribute, deliver and promote tobacco products will likewise be prohibited.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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