President Rodrigo Duterte will be signing a nationwide anti-smoking law in the Philippines this October.
The new law is expected to replicate the existing law in Davao City, where he was Mayor before, on a national level.
Breaking the no-smoking law in Davao has a penalty of Php5,000 fine or four months of jail time.
“This is effectively a scaling up of the Davao City plan,” said Ralph Degollacion, project coordinator of a local NGO, Health Justice Philippines.
Smoking Ban Coverage
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial told the Associated Press: “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.”
She later specified that the law would apply to public vehicles only.
E-cigarettes or ‘vaping’ will be counted as a violation too due to their smoke production.
Ubial is also not worried about smokers and tobacco companies to oppose the ban.
“We’re not stopping them from smoking, we are just telling them not to smoke around non-smokers,” she said.
Assistant Health Secretary Eric Tayag said that the new law intends to protect the public from secondhand or thirdhand smoke — that inhaled when a smoker is nearby or when smoke remains in the area even after the smoker has left there.
Reuters reports a draft executive order that states designated smoking area to be established, at least 10 meters or 33 feet outside buildings.
The president himself used to be a smoker but started to campaign heavily against it after resulting to a complication called Barrett’s Esophagus.
Duterte is known in the media to have had forced a tourist to swallow his cigarette after refusing to stop smoking in a restaurant. He had even chased down smoking violators while driving.
An alarming 17 million Filipinos smoke in the Philippines, according to a 2014 report by Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance. Smoking costs about $4 billion losses every year in healthcare and productivity, experts say.
This new law is great news to country’s public health campaigners. They trust that the president means business due to his strong anti-vice history.