PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s office is encouraging the public to get behind the nationwide smoking ban that was implemented across the country today, July 23.
“This Executive Order is another milestone where the government gives priority to the right to protect public health,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a press statement, as reported by Inquirer.net.
The nationwide smoking ban in public areas was signed by President Duterte on May 16.
“The implementation of this EO is a realization of our dream of a tobacco-free future,” Abella said.
“Together, let us give our full cooperation and support to the smoke-free establishments in public and enclosed places.”
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.
The Department of Health (DoH) has established a hotline for the public to report establishments violating the nationwide smoking ban.
DOH Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag told The Manila Times that only establishments and not private persons can be reported through the hotline.
“There are many asking if they can report a person. That will be hard because it is a matter of whether they smoked or not,” he said.
“What you will report to us when we receive the call, is the time when you saw the violation, the exact establishment and address.”
He also appealed to the public not to abuse the hotline that may affect the smoking ban implementation.
“We are asking the public to not let the hotline go to waste using false reports, malice, revenge or any other reason. They should only report the truth,” the health official said.
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).