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PH-wide smoking ban takes effect today

By CHARINA ECHALUCE

Smoking in public places and conveyances is now banned starting today following the implementation of Executive Order (EO) No. 26.

An estimated 16 million smokers will be affected by the ban that carries a penalty of not less than P500 but not more than P1,000 on the first offense.

A second offense carries a penalty of not less than P1,000 but not more than P5,000.

On the third offense, in addition to a fine of not less than P5,000 but not more than P10,000, the business permits and licenses to operate shall be cancelled or revoked.

Health spokesman Dr. Eric Tayag has advised commercial establishments to post a “No Smoking” sign and designate a single smoking area in open spaces or areas with proper ventilation.

The executive order, billed as “Providing for the Establishment of Smoke-Free Environments in Public and Enclosed Places,” was signed by President Duterte on May 16.

Among the areas where smoking is strictly prohibited are the centers of youth activity, such as playschools, preparatory schools, elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities, youth hostels, and recreational facilities for minors; elevators and stairwells; locations where fire hazards are present; within premises of public and private hospitals, as well as medical, dental, and optical clinics; and food preparation areas.

Tayag said they expect difficulties in the enforcement of the ban.

“Ang nakikita namin there, it is almost impossible for every establishment to conform with the smoking area restrictions. So ang unang-una gagawin talaga lahat ng affected public places, conveyances dapat maglagay ng karatula ‘No Smoking’ o ‘Bawal manigarilyo’. That’s No. 1,” Tayag said.

Tayag said smokers must be made aware of the ban.

“Why is that? Ang alam kasi ng tao ‘pag lumabas ka lang ng building and you smoke sa wall, bakuran, o mga punong kahoy, pwede na. No, it doesn’t look that way sa executive order,” he explained.

The order also requires a buffer zone between the smoking area and the public place.

“’Yong smoking area, bukod sa sariling kuwarto (para sa mga naninigarilyo), meron ka pang buffer zone…isang room between the smoking area at tsaka ‘yong public area so there is another room that separates the two,” Tayag said.

The order also bans smoking inside a private vehicle if it is located in a public place.

Smoking, on the other hand, is not allowed in public vehicles such as trains, buses, and jeepneys, among others.

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