Health advocacy group lauds Duterte’s plan to implement nationwide smoking ban

By , on May 18, 2016

President-elect Rodrigo "Rody" Duterte (Facebook photo)
President-elect Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte (Facebook photo)

MANILA – HealthJustice Philippines, a public health policy think tank and Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control, welcomed on Tuesday presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement that he will implement a “no smoking” policy nationwide, including in enclosed public spaces such as bars and restaurants.

“We are excited about his plan to make the Philippines practically smoke-free. For the longest time, Filipinos have been suffering from the effects of inhaling secondhand smoke everywhere. There is no such thing as a safe level of exposure to it. Some 240 Filipinos die each day from smoking-related diseases,” said Atty. Irene Reyes, managing director of HealthJustice Philippines.

“No one should be forced to inhale secondhand smoke. Likewise, no one should be allowed to irresponsibly put another person’s life in peril. We are looking forward to having an ally in President-elect Duterte in this fight for every Filipino’s right to a safe and healthy environment,” Reyes added.

“Smoke-free” pertains to an environment in which people are protected from the health risks posed by secondhand smoke.

According to the United States Surgeon General, exposure to secondhand smoke increases a non-smoker’s chance of developing lung cancer by 20-30 percent.

Republic Act No. 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 explicitly prohibits smoking in public places, which include, among others, “centers of youth activity such as schools and public conveyances and public facilities.”

When asked why he intends to impose a “no smoking” policy nationwide in the TV show “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa,” Duterte replied, “Para sa kapakanan ng mga Pilipino (For the Filipino’s welfare). It is to protect public health. If you have to protect the public, you must be brutal about it.”

HealthJustice is a public health think tank that aims to bridge the gap between health and law to empower Filipinos to make healthy choices.

The founding members of HealthJustice include doctors, lawyers, and economists who have been recognized for their services in both the private and public sectors.

Armed with the wealth of experience in promoting policy change in the fields of health, environment, and human rights, HealthJustice serves as a vehicle for Filipinos to be free from health risks through appropriate health policies.