Public smoking ban awaits approval in Philippines

The ban replicates on a national level an existing law in Davao City, where President Rodrigo Duterte ruled as mayor for 22 years.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The law is expected to take effect in November.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will sign a law banning smoking in public across the country before the end of October, Health Department announced on Wednesday.

Duterte has been criticised for his tough policies since he came into office in July. His war on drugs has killed 3,600 suspected drug dealers and users so far.

Duterte is known as 'The Punisher' for his extreme policies. (AFP)

The proposed ban replicates on a national level an existing law in the southern Davao City, where Duterte was formerly mayor.

The country already has laws banning tobacco advertising and regulating smoking indoor public places. But with the new law, parks, bus stations and public vehicles also will be considered public places.

"There has been a significant reduction in smoking, but the reduction has been slow," Assistant Health Secretary Eric Tayag said.

"We want to have in place all the tools that are needed to expand this campaign," he added.

The Philippines is the second-most-populous country in Southeast Asia. (Reuters)

Around 17 million people smoke in the Philippines, according to a report released in 2014 by Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance.

Experts say the habit costs the Philippines nearly 4 billion dollars in healthcare and productivity losses every year.

Public health campaigners welcomed the ban which will negatively affect the country’s tobacco lobby.

Marlboro owner Philip Morris International will be among the producers most affected by the law. It is estimated to hold more than 70 percent of the Philippines market.

TRTWorld and agencies