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Bullit Marquez

Duterte imposes public smoking ban in Philippines

The controversial president struggles with smoking-related health issues.

PRESIDENT OF the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order that will impose a wide-ranging ban on smoking in public, reinforcing some of the toughest anti-tobacco measures in Asia.

Smoking cigarettes will be banned in many public places, while selling tobacco within 100 metres of schools and other areas where children gather could attract jail terms, according to the order published late yesterday.

Duterte, a firebrand leader most famous for waging a war on drugs in which thousands of people have died, had promised immediately after becoming president last year to introduce the smoking ban as part of a range of measures to impose more order on society.

Other measures included a ban on singing karaoke at night and a 2am curfew on drinking alcohol in public, although these have yet to be implemented.

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 centres.

However, his critics have said Duterte has supplanted the rule of law with his war on drugs, alleging he has triggered a killing spree by police and vigilantes who have been spurred on by his calls for tens of thousands of people to die.

The order had been reported in some media as a blanket ban on smoking in public places.

However, the order did not make that clear and health department spokesman Eric Tayag said the exact areas to be banned would be announced later, with the order set to become law in 60 days.

Nevertheless, the order did state that smoking would be banned in all “enclosed” public places, which are defined as having a roof and at least one wall.

This means it will cover all public buildings, such as workplaces and malls. However there will be designated smoking areas allowed inside these buildings.

Smoking will also be banned on all forms of public transport.

For Duterte, 72, an ex-smoker, the ban is personal.

The leader has said repeatedly he contracted Buerger’s disease, an incurable illness affecting arteries and veins which causes great pain, because of his years of smoking, and that was one of the reasons he wanted to introduce the ban.

© – AFP, 2017

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