The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a fervent call for the establishment of more smoke-free environments in the Philippines to uphold every Filipino’s right to health as provided for in Article II Section 15 of the Philippine Constitution which states that the State shall promote people’s right to health and instill health consciousness among them.
The proposed bills to expand the smoke-free environment in the country were filed by Senator Ronald dela Rosa on January 11, 2021 in the Senate and in the House of Representatives by Manila City Representative John Marvin Nieto and ACT-CIS Partylist on February 2021. These bills mandate a 100% smoke-free environment in accordance with Article 8 of the WHO Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC), requiring all indoor workplaces, indoor public places, and public transportation to be smoke-free, covering all places accessible to the general public. Senator dela Rosa’s bill also mandates for the creation of Smoke-Free Task Forces, allocating funds for their operations. According to Representative Nieto, this must be pursued not just as a means of protection against the threat of COVID-19, but also “because creating smoke-free environments will protect the general public from the harms of secondhand smoke.