The nationwide smoking ban, as mandated by Executive Order (EO) No. 26 will be in effect starting today, July 23.
Under EO 26, smoking in public places such as schools, workplaces, sidewalks and public vehicles is prohibited. The sale of tobacco to minors is also banned.
The EO also requires establishments to put up “No Smoking” signs that measure at least 8 by 11 inches (20.3 by 27.9 cm), with a “No Smoking” symbol occupying at least 60 percent of the sign.
Designated smoking areas should be open or rooms with adequate ventilation and must be separated from other rooms.
The Department of Health (DoH) has established a hotline for the public to report establishments violating the nationwide smoking ban.
The public may report establishments in violation of the provisions of the smoking ban through the DOH Hotline (02) 711-1002.
DOH Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag clarified that only establishments and not private persons can be reported through the hotline.
“There are many asking if they can report a person. That will be hard because it is a matter of whether they smoked or not,” he said.
“What you will report to us when we receive the call, is the time when you saw the violation, the exact establishment and address. We will collate that and it will be sent to the local government through the DILG, since we had arranged the matter. The next step will be to them,” Tayag added, referring to the Department of Interior and Local Governments.
He also appealed to the public not to abuse the hotline that may affect the smoking ban implementation.
“We are asking the public to not let the hotline go to waste using false reports, malice, revenge or any other reason. They should only report the truth,” the health official said.
LGUs urged to implement
The Health department has also advised local government units (LGUs) to create a smoke-free task force in their own communities to help with the implementation of the nationwide smoking ban.
“We expect the local government[s]to organize a smoke-free task force,” Tayag said.
The DOH official said that while the local health units are expected to lead the initiative, other members of the community can volunteer to help implement the smoking ban.
“Normally, the one who leads their [village’s] health council will become team leader [of the task force]. But others also can also volunteer to join their group,” Tayag said.
“They can also deputize barangay officials and if they have traffic enforcers on their payroll, they can also deputize them,” he added.
He also mentioned other local government employees can volunteer to join the smoke-free task force if the group is not large enough to monitor tobacco use in the area.
“Local government employees can volunteer in your area such as teachers, doctors, nurses, accountants, if your task force is small, you might find it hard to monitor,” he said.
“The size of the task force will depend on the local government unit, like they can have a large task force which has many teams which they can deploy to monitor [an area], but the important thing is, it is a combined force of the local government and police of the PNP [Philippine National Police],” he added.
Still no IRR
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial on Wednesday said the nationwide smoking ban, as mandated by EO 26, will still be enforced starting today even in the absence of its implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
Ubial added that there is still no IRR as “it is still being vetted with other government agencies.”
She, however, said the IRR will be released as soon as possible after July 23.
“We were hoping that it will come out [in]60 days, but it did not happen since there are still many comments and consultations, so we’re hoping that it will come out soon, but we are not putting a deadline,” Ubial added.
Tayag earlier said EO 26 can still be implemented even without an IRR, a requirement for new laws.
The nationwide smoking ban is patterned after the anti-smoking ordinance that President Rodrigo Duterte imposed in Davao City when he was the mayor there.
E-cigarettes or vapes are still being studied by the DoH to be included in the smoking ban based on the recommendation of the World Health Organization.