Antitobacco advocates are urging the public to keep their Christmas parties smoke-free by steering clear of cigarettes altogether.
“As we go to our string of Christmas get-togethers and parties, let us keep them smoke-free. It will not only be a good gift for ourselves to maintain good health but also to show care for your loved ones by protecting them from second-hand smoke,” said New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) president Emer Rojas.
Second-hand smoke is defined as those that are inhaled involuntarily from cigarettes being smoked by others.
Rojas said gatherings usually attract cigarette smokers owing to the expected presence of a buffet of food and drinks and the prolonged periods of conversation with families and friends.
“Having a healthy and smoke-free Christmas party will not rob us of the joy in being with our loved ones and sharing food, drinks and stories with them,” said Rojas.
Rojas said having the promised executive order (EO) for a smoke-free Philippines would have been a great tool in discouraging people from smoking during Christmas parties.
“We would have hoped that the EO is already in place by this time. It would have forced people to adopt smoke-free Christmas parties anywhere in the country,” said the cancer survivor-turned-health advocate.
President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to fulfill his campaign promise of signing the EO that will outlaw smoking in all public places nationwide.
In the absence of the EO, Rojas appealed to law enforcers to instead strictly implement provisions of the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 regarding smoking ban in public places.
These include schools, public transportation terminals and offices, and buildings, shopping malls, movie houses, hotels and restaurants.
“The law clearly provides that smoking in public places is prohibited, thereby making it illegal to puff cigarettes in establishments, where most of Christmas gatherings take place,” said Rojas.
Data from the Tobacco Atlas show that about 15,570,000 adults smoke tobacco each day in the Philippines.
Records also show that an estimated 24 million Filipinos are exposed to tobacco smoke every day.