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Smoke-free Philippines awaits Duterte signature

Good news for anti-smoking advocates: President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to sign this month an order declaring a nationwide smoking ban. File photo

MANILA, Philippines – Good news for anti-smoking advocates: President Duterte is expected to sign this month an order declaring a nationwide smoking ban.

Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial reported that the draft executive order providing for a smoking-free Philippines is awaiting Duterte’s signature.

“We already submitted the draft executive order and the President will probably sign it within October,” Ubial told reporters.

Ubial said the executive order is almost a duplicate of the ordinance providing for a total smoking ban in Davao City.

Once the executive order is signed and becomes effective, all public places in the country will be 100 percent smoke free.

“There will be no smoking in public places anymore, whether indoor or outdoor. Parks, bus stations, and even in vehicles. All these are considered public places,” Ubial said.

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The President earlier reiterated his plan to impose a total ban on smoking, which he said only brings diseases to both smokers and non-smokers.

The Department of Health (DOH) will also be pushing for an amendment of the existing Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003.

“We are still trying to explore amending the law, RA 9211, because of the many contentious issues and gray areas,” Ubial explained.

She cited point-of-sale advertisements and the designation of smoking areas as among the gray areas in the existing law.

“What we want is to remove the gray areas in the current law and totally prohibit point-of-sale advertisements as well as designation of indoor smoking areas,” Ubial said.

Ubial just shrugged off possible attempt by tobacco companies to stop the imposition of a total smoking ban in the country.

“It is up to you to oppose. It is already the President you will be fighting against,” she said.

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