Philippine leader imposes strict ban on smoking

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20 May, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the executive order banning smoking in public places nationwide.

The executive order, signed Tuesday and announced Thursday, prohibits the use of tobacco and electronic cigarettes in public spaces, indoor or outdoor. Ordering, instructing, or compelling a minor to use, light up, buy, sell, distribute, deliver, advertise or promote tobacco products are likewise prohibited.

Abella said that the current ban replicates an ordinance Duterte created in 2012 in his southern hometown of Davao City.

Duterte was himself a heavy smoker but quit when he was diagnosed as suffering from Buerger's disease, which can cause blockages in the blood vessels.

"Placing, posting, displaying or distributing advertisement and promotional materials of tobacco products, such as but not limited to leaflets, posters, display structures and other materials within 100 meters from the perimeter of a school, public playground, and other facilities frequented particularly by minors, hostel and recreational facilities for minors, including those frequented by them, or in an establishment when such establishment or its location is prohibited from selling tobacco products", one of the provisions of the order reads. Municipalities must also designate smoking areas that are far from these places, and away from elevators, stairwells, petrol stations, health centres and wherever food is prepared.

The 71-year-old leader campaigned for the presidency promising to be tough on criminals, the corrupt, and drug pushers and users and to uproot vices one by one, such as smoking and illegal gambling.

Gangs of vigilantes have taken seriously the president's call to slaughter addicts.

Mr Duterte's predecessor, Benigno S. Aquino III, had signed a law in 2014 requiring bold graphic health warnings on all cigarette packages, but studies show it has done little to stub the vice in this country of 104 million.

Even an industry lobby group, the Philippine Tobacco Institute (PTI), said it supported the regulation and acknowledged the health objectives. "That ain't the way", Duterte said at the time, saying that smoking can lead to diseases like cancer.

Gian Carlo Arandia, Manila Med pulmonologist, said raising the legal age for smoking would help limit access to tobacco products and eventually reduce the number of young smokers.

Strict enforcement of a prohibition of tobacco sales to minors has been a challenge for the government.

According to these studies, 8.9 percent of students aged 11 to 15 years are smoking cigarettes and 7.3 percent use some forms of tobacco.


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