By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte finally signed yesterday Executive Order 26 (EO 26) for the implementation of the nationwide smoking ban.
This was confirmed last night by Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella and the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) last night.
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial likewise confirmed the signing which she said was in time for the celebration of “World No Tobacco Day” on May 31.
Under the EO, smoking in enclosed public places and transportation servicing the general population, whether stationary or in motion, except designated smoking areas (DSAs) is unlawful.
It also prohibits the sale of tobacco products to minors; and minors are likewise prohibited to sell, use, light up, buy, distribute, deliver, advertise, or promote tobacco products.
Selling or distributing and promoting or advertising tobacco products in places frequented by minors or within 100 meters of such locations is also prohibited.
These locations include schools, youth hostels, and recreational facilities for minors among others.
Designate smoking areas (DSAs) shall not have any opening that will allow air to escape to a smoke-free area except for a single door and shall not be located in or within 10 meters from entrances, exits, or any place where people pass or congregate, or in front of air intake ducts.
No establishment or transportation shall have more than one DSA and minors shall not be allowed to enter DSAs.
DSAs shall also have a “smoking area” signage, graphic health warnings on the effects of tobacco use, and prohibition on the entry of minors.
However, DSAs are not allowed in places frequented by minors; elevators and stairwells; locations where fire hazards are present like gas stations; medical establishments including public and private hospitals, dental and optical clinics, health centers, nursing homes, dispensaries, and laboratories; and food preparation areas.
Persons and establishments who will be caught violating the EO shall be punished in accordance with the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 which includes a fine of at least P500 for the first offense, at least P1,000 for the second offense, and at least P5,000 but not more than P10,000 for the third offense. Business permits and licenses to operate of establishments violating the EO for the third time shall be cancelled or revoked.
The DOH first submitted a draft EO in October last year on the nationwide smoking ban based on the Davao city model. But the draft has since undergone several revisions.
Ubial earlier said it is the administration’s goal to reduce smoking in the country to about 10 percent.