Philippines bans smoking in public places, Twitter reacts with joy

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President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order banning smoking in public places nationwide, officials confirmed Thursday.

Under the order, which takes effect in mid-July, the use of both regular and electronic cigarettes will only be allowed in "designated smoking areas" (DSAs) that are in open spaces or rooms with ventilation.

In October previous year, Duterte said the nationwide executive order is patterned after the smoking ban that he imposed when he was mayor of Davao City, his home city in the southern Philippines.

The nationwide measure, known as Executive Order 26, is similar to the near-universal smoking ban Mr Duterte put in place in Davao City in 2002, when he was the city's mayor.

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.

Through EO 26, all public places will now be 100-percent smoke-free.

Other standards and specification to better ensure a smoke-free environment as may be prescribed by the Inter-Agency Committee-Tobacco under Republic Act 9211 provided that such standards and specifications are consistent with the order and that persons-in-charge are given 60 days to comply.

Under the EO, smoking within enclosed public places and public conveyances, whether stationary or in motion, are deemed unlawful act.

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This means it will cover all public buildings, such as workplaces and malls. While local municipalities can designate smoking areas, they must be a significant distance from such areas, as well as from health centers, food preparation areas, gas stations and health centers.

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

Minors will also be prohibited from smoking, selling and buying cigarettes and other tobacco products, the EO says.

The Philippine Tobacco Institute was not immediately available for comment.

Duterte has sought the no-smoking policy in the country, noting that smoking only brings disease not only to the smokers but also to the victims of second-hand smoke.

About 23.8 percent of the adult population smoked in 2015, down from 28.3 percent in 2009, according to government surveys.

Philippine public health campaigners have long battled the hefty tobacco lobby and welcomed Duterte's push to end smoking in public.

"We have always supported regulation of public smoking as provided for under the national law including the designation of areas where smoking is allowed", it said.

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