BEGINNING today, smoking has been banned in the Philippines capital after its mayor issued a directive prohibiting the act in all public areas.
According to ABS-CBN News, mayor Joseph Estrada implemented the smoking ban in Manila on Monday, similar to a law applied in Davao City where President Rodrigo Duterte was mayor for two decades.
The report by the local news agency said Estrada, prohibited smoking in public areas in Manila, including the city hall, through City Ordinance 7748.
Those who violate the ordinance faced tough penalties, including being arrested by city hall employees.
As a former longtime smoker, Estrada had kicked the habit after facing health complications and was hospitalised last December after suffering bouts of asthma attacks.
Last year, Duterte proposed a nationwide ban on smoking in public areas and called for the drafting of a new executive order to implement the proposal. The order is still awaiting Duterte’s signature for approval.
If approved, the order could see severe fines amounting to thousands of pesos and up to four months jail for offenders.
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.