Duterte bans public smoking in Philippines, asks citizens to help

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte attends the opening plenary of the World Economic Forum on ASEAN at a hotel in Phnom Penh Cambodia Ma

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order banning smoking in all public places nationwide, a Palace official announced on Thursday.

"Scientific evidence has unequivocally established that tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco cause death, disease and disability, lead to devastating health, social, economic and environmental consequences, and places burdens on families, on the poor, and on national and local health systems", Duterte said.

Incidentally, EO 26 was signed on the occasion of the World Non Tobacco Day that will be celebrated on May 31.

The Order also reinforces the Republic Act (RA) No. 9211, or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, which "prohibits the purchase and sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to and by minors and in certain places frequented by minors".

A DSA shall also have a non-smoking buffer zone.

The buffer zone must be between the door of the DSA and the rest of the building.

For a DSA inside an enclose space, there shall be no opening that would allow air to escape into smoke-free area of a building or conveyance, except for a single door equipped with an automatic door closer.

DSAs should not be located in or within 10 meters from entrances, exits, or any place where people pass or congregate, or in from of air intake ducts.

Selling, distribution and purchasing of tobacco products from minors are also prohibited, according to EO 26.

Municipalities must also designate smoking areas that are far from these places, and away from elevators, stairwells, gas stations, health centres and wherever food is prepared.

In addition, ordering, instructing or compelling of a minor to use, light up, buy, sell, distribute, deliver and promote tobacco products will likewise be prohibited. These locations include schools, youth hostels, and recreational facilities for minors, among others.

The DSAs must display "highly visible" illustrations of "smoking area" signage, graphic health warnings on the effects of tobacco use, and prohibition on the entry of below 18 years of age.

Persons-in-charge are also mandated to establish internal procedure and measures through which the EO shall be implemented and enforced within the area of which he is in charge.

Those who violate the order face a penalty of from P1,000 up to P400,000, depending on the gravity of the offense. "It's up to the local government units to draft their, shall we call, ordinances to implement this EO", Rosell-Ubial said.

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