By Lyka Mae P. Chiang
President Rodrigo Duterte signed on May 16 the executive order that bans smoking in public and enclosed places nationwide.
Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial said that the Department of Health (DOH) is pleased to share with the public the Executive Order No 26 titled “Providing for the establishment of smoke-free environments in public and enclosed spaces,” which reinforces the strong commitment of the President to the well-being of the Filipinos.
If properly implemented, this will cut down the number of tobacco-related deaths by 87,000.
The executive order was based on the Davao City ordinance which prohibits smoking in enclosed public places and public transportations. Selling, distributing, and purchasing of tobacco products to and from minors is also illegal. Minors are prohibited to smoke, sell or buy cigarettes and other tobacco products, as well as ordering them to use, light up, buy, sell, distribute, deliver, advertise or promote tobacco products, which is a very common practice, especially in rural areas.
Secretary Ubial also reiterated concerns regarding sales, distribution, and placement of advertisements and promotional materials of tobacco products around the areas that are frequented by minors, such as schools, public playgrounds, youth hostels and recreational facilities for minors. These acts are banned within 100-meter perimeter radius of the said places. It is also not allowed to put up any form of advertisement outside point-ofsales stores, and this is the most outstanding provision in the order.
“The Department of Health will lead in developing the implementing rules and regulations to guide the local government units (LGUs) in the implementation. We will continue to build capacity of health workers on smoking cessation as we expect more smokers to quit due to the environment this order will create which is conducive for quitting,” said Secretary Ubial.
She noted that the executive order provides the minimum standard guidelines, but following the local government code, the LGUs still have the authority to institute stricter measures and impose penalties for the optimum health protection of their community members, in compliance with the obligations under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.