RODRIGO DUTERTE’S government’s ban on smoking in public will be in force across the country as of this Sunday, the Philippines Health Department confirmed last Friday.
Government spokesman Dr Eric Tayag has said “implementation will be July 22,” reiterating the Executive Order (EO), signed by the president, on establishing smoke-free environments in public and enclosed spaces legally takes effect 60 days after its initial publication in newspapers.
“The effectivity of the EO is 60 days after publication, not after signing,” he said as quoted by the state Philippine News Agency. On the back of his bloody crackdown on illegal drugs in the Philippines, Duterte is reportedly making good on a campaign promise.
The new legislation means smoking will be completely banned in places such as educational institutions, hospitals and venues where food is prepared. Indoor areas like elevators and stairwells will also be smoke-free.
The order also reinforces an existing law that prohibits the purchase and sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to and by minors and in places frequented by minors.
All cities and municipalities will also form local Smoke-Free Task Forces to assist in implementing the order. The capital Manila has implemented a public smoking ban back in February.
There are to date an estimated 122.4 million adult smokers in Southeast Asia, according to the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance’s (Seatca) latest survey in November 2016.
Of the total, half (53.3 percent) live in Indonesia. The Philippines, on the other hand, is the second-largest tobacco consumer in the region at 13.5 percent. Seatca’s findings also show female smoking rates to be particularly high in Indonesia, Laos, Burma (Myanmar) and the Philippines.
Those who violate the new law could face up to four months in jail and a fine of PHP5,000 (US$100).