THE 87,000 deaths from smoking will go down following President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing on May 16 of Executive Order 26 providing the establishment of smoke-free areas in public and enclosed places, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial said Friday.
She said the proper implementation of the nationwide smoking ban will contribute to the reduction of deaths due to smoking.
Based on the records of the Health Department, an estimated 10 people die every hour in the Philippines because of smoking-related diseases such as different types of cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart disease, among others.
Duterte’s executive order was patterned after the Davao City ordinance. Smoking within enclosed public places and public conveyances was prohibited.
The sale of tobacco products to minors was banned. Minors were not allowed to smoke, sell, buy or advertise tobacco products including cigarettes.
Senator JV Ejercito says Davao City’s smoking ban has been proven effective.
“I earnestly hope that Executive Order 26 would be enforced effectively as well nationwide,” Ejercito said.
He says smoking accounts for more than 85 percent of all lung cancer deaths. Lung cancer is also the third leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the Philippines.
“With Davao City as the primary example of a smoke-free city, it is just incumbent for President Rodrigo Duterte to act on this through a nationwide smoking ban in all public places,” Ejercito said.
As head of the Senate’s health committee, Ejercito called on the department to initiate an intensive media campaign against smoking.
Ubial reiterated the ban on the sale and distribution of tobacco products in schools, public playgrounds, youth hostels and recreational facilities for minors and the places frequented by minors.
She said her department will lead in developing the implementing rules and regulations to guide local government units in the implementation of EO 26.
“We will continue to build capacity of health workers on smoking cessation as we expect more smokers to quit due to the environment this order will create, which is conducive for quitting,” Ubial said.
The New Vois Association of the Philippines welcomed the signing of EO 26.
NVAP president Emer Rojas said Duterte was finally achieving one of his first commitments after getting the highest number of votes in last year’s presidential race.
“Finally, we now have a government policy that will lead the country closer than ever to seeing a smoke-free Philippines,” Rojas said.
“We thank President Duterte for making it happen. Truly, change has come in terms of protecting Filipinos from the threat of cigarette smoking.”