DOH to lead LGUs in implementing smoking ban

After President Duterte signed on May 16 Executive Order (ED) 26 providing for the establishment of smoke-free environments in public and enclosed places,  the Department of Health (DOH) is expecting that it will “contribute to the reduction of the 87,000 deaths from tobacco use”.

“The Department of Health is pleased to share with the public the executive order that reinforces the firm and unwavering commitment of the President to the health and welfare of all Filipinos. If properly implemented, this will contribute to the reduction of the 87,000 deaths from tobacco use,” Secretary of Health Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial said.

The EO was patterned after the Davao City ordinance when it was in the early years of implementation. Smoking within enclosed public places and public conveyances is prohibited. Selling, distributing or purchasing tobacco products to and from minors is also unlawful. Minors are not allowed to smoke, sell or buy cigarettes or any other tobacco products, and it is also unlawful to order a minor to use, light up, buy, sell, distribute, deliver, advertise or promote tobacco products, a practice that is very common, especially in rural areas.

Ubial reiterated the ban on sale and distribution of tobacco products, and ban on advertisements and promotional materials, as stated in the EO, in schools, public playground, youth hostels and recreational facilities for minors, including those frequented by minors, or within 100-meter perimeter radius of these places, equivalent to three basketball courts.  It is also prohibited to place any form of tobacco advertisement outside point-of-sales stores, and this is the most outstanding provision in the order.

“The Department of Health will lead in developing the implementing rules and regulations to guide the local government units [LGUs] in the implementation. We will continue to build capacity of health workers on smoking cessation as we expect more smokers to quit due to the environment this order will create, which is conducive for quitting. The executive order suggested the minimum standards to be followed, but by virtue of the local government code, the LGUs have the mandate to institute more stringent measures and impose penalties for optimum protection of the health of their constituents, in compliance with the obligations under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” Rosell Ubial said.

For his part, Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag reminded that smoking is very addicting because of nicotine.

“Maliban sa nicotine, marami pa itong nakakasamang substances. Marami rito ay carcinogenic,” Tayag said. He furthered that if a person smokes, he is four times more likely to suffer from a heart attack.

“Ang paninigarilyo, kahit po secondhand smoke ganito ang epekto, masisira po blood vessels. Anong  mangyayari? Kapapal po iyon, liliit ngayon ang daanan ng dugo. Dahil sisikip po iyon, tataas ang blood pressure. Sa pagtaas ng blood pressure, maapektuhan po ang mga ibang parte ng katawan. Maaari kayong magkaroon ng coronary artery disease or heart attack,” he explained.