Cancer survivors urge strict ban on sales of cigs near schools
With classes opening soon, an organization of cancer survivors and former smokers has urged the authorities to ensure that no tobacco products are sold near schools and other educational facilities.
New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) president Emer Rojas said that while Republic Act No. 9211—the Tobacco Regulation Act—provides penalties for violations, specifically against establishments selling tobacco products to minors, this is loosely implemented, thus allowing students access to cigarettes.
Rojas said that while persons and establishments found guilty of selling or distributing tobacco products to minors faced fines of at least P5,000 or imprisonment of no less than 30 days, this too was loosely implemented.
“With the incoming administration, we at NVAP are confident this provision of RA 9211 will be fully implemented. President-elect Rodrigo Duterte showed strong political will in Davao when he made the city smoke-free and there is no doubt he can do the same for the whole country,” Rojas said in a statement.
RA 9211 prohibits the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products within 100 meters of schools and in areas frequented by minors.
The law, enacted in 2003, also prohibits the following: selling tobacco products to minors anywhere in the country, including in centers of youth activity; buying cigarettes from minors, and bans smoking among minors.
But if the one caught selling, buying or smoking tobacco is a minor, Article 189 of Presidential Decree No. 603 would apply.
The decree—known as The Child and Youth Welfare Code—provides that youth offenders “shall be exempt from criminal liability and be committed to the care of their parents or nearest relative or family friend at the discretion of the court and subject to its supervision.”
“Despite the law’s existence for 13 long years, it is very evident that it was not implemented given the high incidence of youth smoking in our country. Youth smokers are everywhere. They do not need to hide as if evading the watchful eye of authorities,” Rojas said.
According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS), more than one in four Filipino youth aged 13-15 is a smoker.
Among those in this age group who smoke, 17.5 percent are girls and 28.3 percent are boys.
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