30 October 2016:
A NON-GOVERNMENT organization appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to make the Philippines smoke-free by enforcing a nationwide smoking ban in public places and government offices.
“We are for a smoke-free Philippines, and we believe you are, too,” said Health Justice Philippines, which stated that aside from Republic Act 9211 (Tobacco Regulation Act of 2013), there are several measures prohibiting smoking in public places and conveyances in the country.
These include city ordinances, and other government policies ban smoking in centers of youth activity, restaurants, food and beverage preparation areas and other public spaces such as Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Memorandum Circular 2009-036 (in public vehicles and terminals), and Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular 17 (in government premises).
“But these are not well-enforced,” the HJP said. “Enforce our smoke-free laws now. Protect public health now. Make the Philippines smoke-free now.”
According to HJP, at least 240 Filipinos die every day from smoking-related diseases. It added exposure to second-hand smoke increases a non-smoker’s chance of developing lung cancer by 20 percent to 30 percent.
“No amount of second-hand smoke will ever be safe, and no one should be permitted to irresponsibly place other people’s lives and health in peril by exposing them to second-hand smoke. We must lose no time in providing a smoke-free environment for our children and families,” the group said.
Health Justice Philippines is an NGO established in 2009 that aims to bridge the gap between public health and law in the country to enable Filipinos to make informed and empowered health choices.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health is also expecting President Duterte to sign an executive order on a nationwide smoking ban within the year.
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said “We already submitted a draft EO urging the President and all government agencies to start implementing a smoking ban like the one in Davao City.”
The move was supported by advocacy groups Coalition of Clean Air Advocates, Health Futures Foundation, Health Justice Philippines, New Vois Association of the Philippines and Woman Health Philippines.
In an open letter to the president, the group said it is eagerly waiting for the president to sign the executive order enforcing the nationwide smoking ban.