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Duterte orders strict smoking ban in Philippines, and asks citizens to help

19 Mai 2017

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order that bans smoking in all public places in the Philippines, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said on Thursday.

Smoking in both indoor and outdoor public spaces has been banned in the Philippines, with those who disobey the law facing a maximum penalty of four months in prison and a fine of $100.

The advertisement of tobacco products within 100 meters from the perimeter of these places is also banned, according to the presidential order. Business permits and licenses to operate of establishments violating the EO for the third time shall be cancelled or revoked.

Duterte rose to prominence as the longtime mayor of the southern city of Davao, which he said he transformed from being crime-ridden into one of the nation's most liveable and safe urban centers.

Duterte is a former smoker and has been quite vocal about his stance since quitting decades ago.

Palace sources also confirmed that the President already signed EO 26.

Even an industry lobby group, the Philippine Tobacco Institute (PTI), said it supported the regulation and acknowledged the health objectives.

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Health advocates have long-battled tobacco lobbyists and the eight firms now making cigarettes in the country.

The EO, however, bars the establishment of DSAs in schools, hospitals, clinics, food preparation areas, and locations in which fire hazards are present. Police-led anti-smoking task forces will be created in towns and cities. The executive order also prohibits anyone from selling, distributing and purchasing tobacco products to minors in the country.

"We are happy! It's really comprehensive and [the designated smoking areas] are very strict!" she added.

"WHO welcomes the Philippine initiative on a nationwide ban on smoking", Dr Florante Trinidad, who works on the WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative in the Philippines, said in an e-mail to Agence France-Presse.

A 2014 report by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance shows that there are about 17 million Filipino smokers, or almost a third of the adult population.

However as around 17 million people in the country smoke, or a third of the adult population, including half of all men, it may be hard to enforce.

Marlboro owner Philip Morris International, which is estimated to hold more than seven-tenths of the Philippines market through its Fortune Tobacco joint venture, will be among the international producers most affected. Only about 9 percent of women in the Philippines smoke.

Duterte orders strict smoking ban in Philippines, and asks citizens to help