PH joins world in observance of No Tobacco Day | Inquirer News

PH joins world in observance of No Tobacco Day

MANILA, Philippines—If you can’t kick the habit, at least stop smoking even for a day.

The Department of Health aired the appeal to 18 million smokers in the Philippines in observance of “World No Tobacco Day” today—a global campaign initiated by the World Health Organization to draw attention to the health menace of tobacco use.


Nonsmokers, too, can play their role in the campaign, Health Undersecretary Teodoro Herbosa said at a press conference on Monday.

“They can tell smokers, ‘Please go away,’ because it is everybody’s business,” Herbosa said.


Herbosa urged all smokers to abstain for 24 hours from all forms of tobacco consumption.

“If they can’t do that and if they’re going to smoke, they should look for a safe place to perpetuate their bad habit,” Herbosa said, adding that smokers must be mindful at least today of their neighbors who may inhale second-hand smoke.

Local ordinances

Health experts have warned that second-hand smoke is as dangerous as direct smoking, causing the same diseases such as lung cancer, and cardiovascular and other respiratory illnesses.

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) announced that it would start implementing in July a Metro-wide ban on smoking in public places.

But the 16 cities and one municipality comprising the metropolis may already enforce their own ordinances banning smoking in public places, MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino said.

“The apprehension of violators has been ongoing [in those places] since they already have their own ordinances,” Tolentino told reporters.


Valenzuela City is the only local government in Metro Manila without an ordinance penalizing smoking in public places, but it is expected to pass its own law this week.

Major roads

MMDA officials have said they will use the month of June to conduct an information campaign on the areas covered by the smoking ban before making arrests in July on major roads under its jurisdiction.

These roads include Edsa, Commonwealth Avenue, Marcos Highway, Roxas Boulevard, Quezon Avenue, Seaside, Radial-10 Road and Osmeña Highway.

According to Tolentino, smoking is banned in public places such as public utility vehicles, bus and jeep terminals, tricycles, loading and unloading bays, pedestrian lanes, overpasses, underpasses, elevators, recreational facilities, food preparation areas, schools and hospitals.

Smoking is also banned within 100 meters of those places, as well as on sidewalks.

Community service

Violators will be fined P500 on the first offense. Those who cannot afford to pay will be made to perform an eight-hour community service.

Payments may be made in the MMDA office, but the agency is preparing a mechanism that would allow violators to pay their fines through banks.

“If they won’t pay, they will receive a subpoena. If you’re caught smoking, you’ll be given a ticket. If you throw cigarette butts in the street, that’s another violation for littering,” said Dr. Loida Labao-Alzona, head of the MMDA Health Public Safety and Environmental Protection.

Citizens may send their pictures and videos on violations to [email protected], according to MMDA spokesperson Tina Velasco.

Asked if Malacañang is included in the ban, Tolentino said government buildings were allowed to designate smoking areas. President Aquino is a known smoker.

Private homes are not covered by the ban.

Cigarettes kill 87,600 Filipinos every year, resulting in P148 billion in annual economic losses, according to official statistics. That means 7,300 Filipinos die from smoking every month—or 10 every hour.

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TAGS: cigarettes, Department of Health, Metro Manila, No Tobacco Day, Smoking, Tobacco, World Health Organization (WHO)
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