MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) expects local government units (LGUs) to create a new ordinance or align existing ones to Executive Order (EO) No. 26 on the designation of smoke-free environments in public and enclosed places nationwide that was recently signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a press briefing held at the DOH Media Relations Unit in Tayuman, Sta. Cruz, Manila Friday, health department spokesperson Dr. Eric Tayag said Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial has assured that the department is ready to guide LGUs in creating ordinances that will match the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the executive order.
Tayag said the IRR is expected to be completed on or before the 60th day after the signing of the EO.
“The IRR will determine some guidelines not mentioned in the EO,” he said, noting that drawing up the IRR will involve public consultations to enlighten the public on the how the order will be carried out.
The order prohibits smoking in enclosed public places and public conveyances, as well as selling and distributing tobacco products to minors, who are not allowed to smoke, sell or buy cigarettes or other tobacco products.
The EO bars anyone from ordering a minor to use, light up, buy, sell, distribute, deliver, advertise or promote tobacco products, a practice that is very common especially in rural areas.
It bans the sale and distribution of tobacco products, along with their ads and promotional materials, especially in schools, playgrounds, youth hostels, recreational facilities and other areas frequented by minors, or within a 100-meter radius of these places, a distance roughly equivalent to the length of three basketball courts.
The order also prohibits the placement of tobacco ads outside point-of-sales stores.
Tayag said that under the EO, only one designated smoking area will be allowed in a building.
Under the local government code, LGUs have the responsibility to create ordinances and have the full power to implement them within the areas of their jurisdiction. These ordinances will determine the penalties to be imposed on offenders.
Tayag said LGUs that already have ordinances on the ban on smoking in public places might need to amend them to follow the newly signed EO.
According to Ubial, if properly implemented, the EO will help reduce the number of deaths from tobacco use, currently estimated at 87,000 per year.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed last May 16 the executive order that was patterned after the ordinance he imposed in Davao City when he was still its mayor. LJ/PNA-northboundasia.com