Philippines: Health group lauds Duterte’s plan for nationwide smoking ban

17 May 2016

Public health policy think tank and Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control HealthJustice Philippines welcomes presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement that he will implement a “no smoking” policy nationwide, including in enclosed public spaces such as bars and restaurants.

“We are excited about his plan to make Philippines practically smoke-free. For the longest time, Filipinos have been suffering from the effects of inhaling secondhand smoke everywhere. There is no such thing as a safe level of exposure to it. 240 Filipinos die each day from smoking-related diseases,” said Atty. Irene Reyes, managing director of HealthJustice Philippines.

“Smoke-Free” pertains to an environment in which people are protected from the health risks posed by secondhand smoke. According to the US Surgeon General, exposure to secondhand smoke increases a non-smoker’s chance of developing lung cancer by 20-30 percent. The RA 9211 or Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 explicitly prohibits smoking in public places, which include, among others, “centers of youth activity such as schools” and “public conveyances and public facilities.”



When asked on the show “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” why he intends to do it, Duterte replied, “Para sa kapakanan ng mga Pilipino. It is to protect public health. If you have to protect the public, you must be brutal about it.” The Davao City mayor has been successful in implementing a smoking ban in public places in his city. He also banned the customary New Year’s Eve fireworks display.

“No one should be forced to inhale secondhand smoke. Likewise, no one should be allowed to irresponsibly put another person’s life in peril. We are looking forward to having an ally in president-elect Duterte in this fight for every Filipino’s right to a safe and healthy environment,” Reyes added.

Davao City Council Ordinance No. 0367-12, Series of 2012, known as The New Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance, has repealed inconsistent provisions of original comprehensive anti-smoking ordinance. Aside from the issuance of citation tickets, the new ordinance now prohibits smoking of any tobacco product including e-cigarettes, shishas, and the like, in all accommodation and entertainment establishments, workplaces, enclosed public places, partially enclosed public places, public buildings, public outdoor spaces and all public conveyances, government-owned vehicles and other means of public transport within the territorial jurisdiction of Davao City.

Likewise, the designated smoking area of commercial and business establishments must now be located in an open outdoor space with no permanent or temporary roof or walls located 10 meters away from entrances or exits with an area not larger than 5 square meters. All establishments caught violating this provision will be fined a maximum of P5,000 or 4 months imprisonment.

HealthJustice is a public health think tank that aims to bridge the gap between health and law to empower Filipinos to make healthy choices. The founding members of HealthJustice include doctors, lawyers, and economists who have been recognized for their services in both the private and public sector. Armed with the wealth of experience in promoting policy change in the fields of health, environment, and human rights, HealthJustice serves as a vehicle for Filipinos to be free from health risks through appropriate health policies.