Groups call for strict enforcement of tobacco sales ban near schools

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Groups call for strict enforcement of tobacco sales ban near schools
This photo illustration shows a customer smoking at a vape store in Manila on November 20, 2019
AFP / Dante Diosina Jr.

MANILA, Philippines — Local government units should enforce the oft-neglected ban on the sale of tobacco products near schools to protect young Filipinos from the harms of smoking, two groups said Tuesday as classes start today.

The Action on Smoking & Health (ASH-Philippines) and the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to local authorities to strictly enforce the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, which prohibits the sale of tobacco products within 100 meters from the perimeter of schools, public playgrounds or other facilities frequented by minors. 

Under the law, violators face a fine of up to P5,000 or imprisonment of up to 30 days. 

ASH-Philippines President Maricar Limpin said the enforcement of the ban “will send a clear message to the youth and the general public about the hazards of smoking and vaping, and our nation’s firm resolve to protect our children and youth from tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke.”

According to ASH, child and adolescent smoking poses serious risks to respiratory health both in the short and long term. Children who smoke two to six times are more susceptible to coughs and increased phlegm, wheezing and shortness of breath than those who do not smoke. 

Smoking impairs lung growth and initiates premature lung function decline which may lead to an increased risk of chronic obstructive lung disease later in life. ASH warned the earlier children adopt regular smoking habits and continue these patterns into adulthood, the greater the risk of developing lung cancer or heart disease.

Children are also more vulnerable to the effects of passive smoking. 

“Our children and people deserve smoke-free and butt-free surroundings in line with the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment” said Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition. 

Department of Health Administrative Order No. 2019-0007 also states that “the distribution, sale and offering for sale and use of electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems (ENDS/ENNDS) shall be strictly prohibited in places where sale and use of cigarettes are prohibited,” and that “the use of ENDS/ENNDS shall be banned in places where smoking is prohibited.”

In 2020, former President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order 106, which expanded the coverage of the restriction on sale of tobacco in locations mentioned in RA 9211 to include e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products. 

Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act, which lapsed into law in 2022, which continues the same sales restriction mentioned in EO 106, and stipulates a fine of P10,000 or imprisonment of not more than 30 days upon discretion of the court.

Around 22 million students have enrolled for School Year 2023 to 2024, and the figure is expected to increase, Department of Education spokesperson Michael Poa said in a Viber message to Philstar.com.

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