by Genalyn Kabiling
The Department of Health (DOH) is willing to conduct a name and shame campaign against local government units that will not strictly enforce the smoking ban in public places starting July 22.
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said they expect the local government units (LGUs) to implement the President’s directive on the smoking restrictions or else face sanctions.
“We are ready to explore that idea of really naming and shaming some of the LGUs that are not complying and also rewarding those that have fully implemented the 100-percent smoke-free environments,” Ubial said in a Palace news conference.
Ubial agreed that the name and shame campaign is a “good idea,” citing that the health department applied the same strategy to help reduce firecracker injuries in the country.
She said the DOH previously identified the local government units with the highest number of firecracker injuries, which later compelled them to improve the safety measures during the New Year’s Eve revelry. “We brought down firecracker injuries by 30 percent this year,” she said.
The executive order that prohibits smoking in public places across the country, signed by President Duterte last May 16, will formally take effect on July 22.
Ubial said the order can be enforced this coming weekend even though the implementing rules and regulations are still being crafted. “There’s no grace period,” she said.
EO 26 aims to provide the establishment of smoke-free environments in public and enclosed spaces. It also provides standards for designated smoking area (DSA), which may either be an open space or a separate area with proper ventilation. Violators can be slapped with fines and imprisonment depending on the number of offenses.
All cities and municipalities must also form a local smoke-free task force to help carry out the provisions of the President’s directive.
Ubial admitted that LGU compliance with the smoking ban would not be easy.
“We know that there might be some LGUs that will not comply with this but we are working doubly hard for the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) and the LGUs to eventually put this in full force,” she said.
“There’s a lot of work to be done by the local government units so it depends on how they move forward in terms of the task force, in terms of the information education materials and in terms of having the private facilities also comply with designated smoking areas,” she added.
The government, meantime, has no plans yet to enforce a total tobacco ban in the country.
“Wala pa po tayong pinag-uusapan na total ban of tobacco in this country, because we are known as a tobacco-producing country. So, marami pong maaapektuhan,” Ubial said.
The health secretary however is inclined to support a tobacco-free world promoted by the World Health Organization and other health groups.
Tags: Department of Health (DOH), Department of the Interior and Local Government, DOH, DOH explores name and shame campaign to boost smoking ban, implementing rules and regulation, Manila Bulletin, Secretary Paulyn Ubial, shame campaign, Smoking Ban