THE government of the Philippines is looking to impose a nationwide ban on smoking in public areas with a new executive order sent to President Rodrigo Duterte’s office for his approval.
According to Rappler, the Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial’s chief of staff Karl Ubial said the draft of the executive order had been submitted to the president’s office and awaiting his signature.
“The EO was submitted last week and is up for review by the President,” Ubial was quoted as saying on Monday.
The document is drawn up from the similar ban in Duterte’s home city of Davao which took effect during the president’s tenure as mayor.
“The Department modeled it after Duterte’s ordinance in Davao, which banned smoking in public places,” Ubial said.
If the EO is signed without any changes, smoking will be prohibited in both indoor and outdoor public spaces, Secretary Paulyn Ubial earlier told reporters.
She said the places gazetted as non-smoking areas included parks, bus stations, and even vehicles which were categorized as a public space.
Duterte had gone on an aggressive anti-smoking campaign during his time as mayor following his diagnosis with Barrett’s esophagus after many years of smoking.
The president, who is more known for his bloody war on drugs and who was once dubbed ‘The Punisher’ for his alleged role in the deaths of drug suspects, had once reportedly chased down smoking drivers and forced a tourist to swallow a cigarette butt after the visitor defied the smoking ban.
Previously, the president had said he wanted to introduce a liquor ban in public spaces as well as impose a curfew for minors.
According to the World Health Organisation, the tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing around 6 million people a year. More than five million of those deaths, according to its estimates, are the result of direct tobacco use, while more than 600,000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
Nearly 80 percent of the more than one billion smokers worldwide, it said, live in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is heaviest.