Philippines' Duterte gets tough on tobacco with ban on smoking in public

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

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

President Duterte finally signed yesterday Executive Order 26 (EO 26) for the implementation of the nationwide smoking ban.

MANILA-President Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed an executive order (EO) that bans smoking in all public places, including public conveyances, throughout the Philippines.

Ubial said the signing of Executive Order 26 was made in time for the celebration of World No Tobacco Day on May 31.

He had been talking about imposing a strict nationwide ban on smoking in public places since March, similar to the southern city of Davao, where he served as mayor for decades.

Duterte had shunned criticism to his policy, especially those coming from the tobacco industry.

To curb the rising number of young smokers in the country, a group of medical experts yesterday encouraged lawmakers to craft a law that would increase the minimum legal age of smoking from 18 to 21 years old.

The smoking ban also covers "vaping" or the use of electronic cigarettes and will apply in casinos, including gaming floors and entertainment rooms, and inside airport buildings, except in designated outdoor smoking areas.

Also, the DSAs should have no opening that will allow air to escape to the smoke-free area of the building or vehicle, except for a single door equipped with an automatic door closer.

The ventilation system for the DSA other than in an open space and for the buffer zone shall be independent of all ventilation systems servicing the rest of the building or conveyance.

The DSAs should not also be located in or within 10 minutes from entrances, exits, or any place where people pass, or in front of air intake ducts.

Minors are prohibited from DSAs, the order said.

These locations include schools, youth hostels, and recreational facilities for minors among others.

Individuals who allow or tolerate smoking in these places will be held responsible.

The new order also puts tight restrictions on where tobacco products can be advertised. It prohibits the "placing, posting, displaying or distributing advertisement and promotional materials of tobacco products" within 100 meters of schools, playgrounds, recreational facilities and other areas frequented by minors.

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.

Persons and establishments who will be caught violating the EO shall be punished in accordance with the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 which includes a fine of at least P500 for the first offense, at least P1,000 for the second offense, and at least P5,000 but not more than P10,000 for the third offense.

Local government units are also enjoined to develop, promote and implement their respective Local Smoking Cessation Programs.

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