DOH eyes release of guidelines on smoking ban by July 16

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) hopes to complete the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on Executive Order (EO) No. 26 that bans smoking in public and enclosed places, before July 16, its chief said Tuesday.

“We’re hoping that the IRR will come out before the 60 days that is outlined in the executive order for full implementation. It will hopefully be out by July 16 or before the SONA,” Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial said during a press conference for the observance of World No Tobacco Day 2017 on Wednesday, May 31.

Ubial was referring to President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July.

She noted that the department is already crafting the IRR, along with other government agencies, such as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., Philippine Ports Authority, Land Transportation Office, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, Civil Aviation Authority, Philippine Economic Zone Authority, Civil Service Commission, Office of the President, and the departments of environment, justice, interior and local government, science and technology, and education.

She urged local government units (LGUs) to issue their respective tobacco control ordinances in accordance with EO No. 26, saying there is no need for the LGUs to wait for the IRR before having local ordinances.

“Actually now, there are LGUs that have ordinances that are stricter than the EO. That can continue. What we will look into are the LGUs without ordinances,” she said.

The health chief encouraged LGUs to pass ordinances that are very specific in terms of how they will implement the executive order.

Ubial said LGUs can refer to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) as basis for their ordinances.

Signed by President Duterte last May 16, EO 26 prohibits smoking in enclosed public places and public conveyances, except in designated smoking areas. It bans the selling and distribution of tobacco products to minors, who are not allowed to smoke, sell or buy cigarettes or other tobacco products.

The order further bans the sale of tobacco products within a 100-meter radius of schools, playgrounds, youth hostels, recreational facilities and other areas frequented by minors and prohibits the placement of tobacco ads outside point-of-sales stores.

According to the DOH, if properly implemented, the EO will help reduce the number of deaths from tobacco use, currently estimated at 87,000 each year. Ferdinand Patinio/