Duterte to ban public smoking
MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ( pix) will this month ban smoking in public, the health department said yesterday, further strengthening some of the toughest tobacco regulation in Asia.
Duterte has waged a ruthless law and order campaign since July that has left over 3,000 people dead while, as a long-time mayor of Davao city, he imposed curfews on minors, banned public alcohol sales at night and rounded up shirtless men.
The upcoming law is in addition to legislation banning tobacco advertising and regulating smoking in indoor public places, as well as a statute that requires graphic images of smoking health hazards to be printed on cigarette packaging.
“There has been a significant reduction in smoking, but the reduction has been slow,” assistant health secretary Eric Tayag said.
“We want to have in place all the tools that are needed to expand this campaign.”
Tayag said the new drive was prompted by Duterte who, in 2002, banned smoking in all public places in Davao.
The World Health Organisation said 20.6% of the Philippine population smoked as of 2013, 10 years after the tobacco regulation act was passed.
The country of 101 million also remained one of 15 nations worldwide with a heavy burden of tobacco-related ill health, it said. The existing law bans smoking in indoor public places including government buildings, hospitals and schools as well as on public transport.
Bars and nightclubs are required to set aside designated smoking areas, but smoking outdoors is not regulated.
Tayag said the planned executive order would plug that gap by only allowing smoking outdoors at the back of buildings “where there are no people”.
For those who defy the ban, penalties include prison, fines and community service or a combination of the three. – AFP