Laryngeal cancer survivors group urges LGUs to prepare for nationwide smoking ban

October 17, 2016

MANILA, Oct. 17 – A group of Laryngeal cancer survivors New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) is encouraging local government units to brace for a nationwide smoking ban in anticipation of an executive order to be signed by President Rodrigo Duterte this month.

NVAP President Emer Rojas said LGUs should now start preparing for the smoking ban as the EO leaves it to local governments to impose appropriate penalties.

“As we anticipate the signing of the EO on nationwide smoking ban, we urge all LGU to prepare ordinances to further strengthen the order,” Rojas said.

The nationwide smoking ban, an election promise made by Duterte, was revealed by Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, whose department submitted the draft EO to the president. It is presumed to be similar to the total smoking ban that Duterte started in Davao City and is still being enforced today.

When signed, the EO will effectively ban smoking in all public spaces, including parks, bus stations,  inside vehicles, and even in designated indoor smoking areas such as in airport lounges and restaurants. Smokers are only allowed to puff outside of buildings in public places away from people.

Rojas said the national policy comes at a time when it is important to safeguard public health against the harmful effects of being exposed to tobacco smoke.

“We the victims of tobacco and the rest of the anti-tobacco advocates laud the positive actions of the president in saving people’s lives,” Rojas said.

There are more than 80 million Filipinos who are not smokers but are exposed to tobacco smoke either in homes or in public places.

“We seek to mobilize the people to be our watchdog for the people’s health to support the government. The smoking ban intends to protect the non-smokers who may be exposed to secondhand smoke,” he said.

A youth group also threw their support for a total smoke-free Philippines saying the ban will not only protect the health of young Filipinos but will also prevent them from initiating other vices such as drugs.

“Cigarette smoking is a gateway to substance abuse and thus should be stopped as a preventive measure to wage an effective war on drugs,” said Sigaw ng Kabataan Coalition National President Ellirie Aviles.

There are an estimated 17.3 million adult Filipinos who consume tobacco at an average of 11 sticks per day – a vice that is responsible for diseases such as stroke, heart disease and respiratory ailments. It is also estimated that 10 Filipinos die from a smoking-related disease every hour. (NVAP)

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