Bello rejects smoking ban in fight vs. Covid-19

MANILA – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has opposed the plan to ban smoking to control the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid 19) in the country. 

“We can’t ban smoking because it will adversely affect the tobacco industry,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a statement, noting that this will not only affect the tobacco companies but also their workers.

Bello said the tobacco industry remits to the government PHP145 billion in excise taxes yearly, employs 2.5 million workers, and contributes heavily to the government’s universal health fund.

He said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is pushing to ban smoking but he opposed it, owing to its serious repercussion on businesses and employment.

“If we ban smoking, those figures will be severely affected,” Bello said, adding that as head of the labor department, his job “is to protect and preserve employment.”

“To achieve that, I help shops to stay in business,” he said.

Bello, meanwhile, proposed that only one person at a time should be allowed to smoke in designated smoking areas.

“We can smoke in smoking areas. But the condition is one smoker at a time,” he said. Ferdinand Patinio /PNA –