by Chito A. Chavez
The New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) urged President Duterte to sign the soonest time possible the anti-smoking Executive Order (EO) to protect the public from the ill -effects of cigarette smoking.
“We appeal to our dear President, who we know is an ardent anti-smoking advocate, to please sign the smoke-free Philippines EO now. Each day of delay would bring your people closer to becoming victims of the ills of smoking like me as well as those who are not even smoking,” said NVAP president Emer Rojas, a former chain-smoker who lost his vocal cords due to cancer.
He said the promised EO is urgent to save Filipinos from smoking-related illnesses as well as second-hand smoke (SHS).
The group, citing the Tobacco Atlas of 2016, said there 14.5 percent of youth aged 13-15, and 23.8 percent of Filipino adults smoke regularly. Rojas noted how having the EO would help prevent SHS from victimizing non-smokers, who are often left vulnerable to the exhaled smoke of cigarette users.
Aside from curbing smoking in public places, the anti-smoking advocate added that having the EO would be a perfect complement to the already-existing tobacco control measures, namely the Republic Act No. 10351 (Sin Tax Law) and Republic Act No. 10643 (Graphic Health Warning [GHW] Law).
“It will lessen the frequency of smoking, thereby reducing the risks for them to get sick of tobacco-related diseases,” said Rojas.
To note, the GHW law mandates tobacco manufacturers to place picture warnings on the ills of smoking in cigarette packs.
On the other hand, the sin tax law is a measure that slaps higher tax rates to cigarette products, thereby making them more costly and inaccessible to the public, especially the youth and the poor.
Under the proposed EO, cigarette smoking will be prohibited in all public places in the country much like what is being implemented in Davao City since Duterte’s reign as mayor.
Duterte earlier said he is more than willing to sign the EO in accordance with his campaign promise of curbing smoking in public places. The President admitted he had Buerger’s disease, an ailment attributed to excessive smoking.
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