MANILA, Philippines – Thailand-based Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) urged yesterday local government units (LGUs) in the Philippines to phase out smoking areas.
In a statement, SEATCA director Bungon Ritthiphakdee lauded the Pasay City government for announcing the gradual phase-out of smoking areas in beerhouses, nightclubs, restaurants, shopping malls and other private and public establishments in two years.
“SEATCA congratulates and strongly supports this extremely necessary initiative of the local government. A healthy population is a true indicator of development. We look forward to more local government units following this lead,” Ritthiphakdee said.
The ban imposed by Pasig City government is in accordance with an amended ordinance authored by city Councilor Alexee Santiago and it is due for full implementation in 2014.
Pasig City said it spends P15 million every year for the medical expenses of city residents who smoke. This amount is way above the P5 million in taxes contributed by cigarette manufacturers to the city’s coffers.
According to Ipat Luna, senior legal adviser of Philippines-based anti-tobacco group Health Justice, Pasig City has joined the roster “of good examples for other local government units to follow.”
“Another is Davao for strictly implementing tobacco control measures, and which now holds evidence of a great number of lives saved after it cracked down on smoking in public places. Protecting the constituents is not a choice. It is minimum requirement,” Luna said.
Several studies showed that tobacco use is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes. They account for two-thirds of all global deaths, a growing number of which are in developing countries. At least 240 Filipinos die a day due to tobacco-related diseases, experts said.