Police told to enforce smoking ban due to added pandemic risk

Police told to enforce smoking ban due to added pandemic risk
Undated file photo shows a man vaping. In the past, vape smokers could face arrest following an earlier memorandum issued by the police in Central Visayas in compliance with the verbal order of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Joy Torrejos

MANILA, Philippines — Police commanders were reminded Thursday to strictly implement the smoking ban in transport hubs and other public places, the quarantine enforcement arm of the government's coronavirus task force disclosed. 

In a statement sent to reporters, the Joint Task Force COVID Shield also said it had reminded police commanders to account for and regularly monitor the smoking areas in their respective areas of responsibility.

Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, commander of the JTF COVID Shield, said that the task force had "been receiving complaints that there are some drivers and passengers who are smoking in PUV terminals, especially in the provinces."

“In this time of pandemic when the coronavirus targets the respiratory system, smoking is really dangerous not only to the smokers but also to non-smokers. Smoking in public places particularly bus, jeepney and tricycle terminals compromises the health safety of both the drivers and the passengers,” said Eleazar.

One study published on the New England Journal of Medicine and credited as the largest study of coronavirus patients found that it was smokers who were found to be 2.4 times more likely to get severely sick with the new pathogen. 

RELATED: Canteens, smoking areas pose highest risk for workplace infection

Smoking is also generally known to weaken the immune system and the body’s ability to fight infections, which the JTF CV Shield said makes smokers more susceptible to coronavirus infection, citing health experts.

Earlier, the Manila International Airport Authority temporarily closed all the smoking areas in all terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport due to the threat of coronavirus infection among smokers.

According to Eleazar, the act of smoking in itself "already compromises the health safety of an individual since contaminated hands or contaminated cigarettes increase the possibility of transmission from fingers to lips, as well as the fact that smokers have to remove face masks and face shields when smoking."

“There is already an existing Presidential Decree 26 signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte against smoking in public places. All our police commanders need to do is to ensure that it is strictly implemented in their respective AORs,” said Eleazar.

RELATED: How smoking, vaping may worsen COVID-19 infections

Franco Luna 

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