DOH may ‘name and shame’ LGUs that don’t enforce smoking ban

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MANILA, Philippines – The Health department may conduct a name and shame campaign against local government units that will fail to enforce the executive order against smoking in public places.

Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial noted that her agency also conducted a similar campaign to reduce the incidences of firecracker injuries.

“We named the LGUs who were among the top or highest injuries in the country and it brought down the firecracker injuries,” Ubial said in a press conference Monday in Malacañang.

“We are ready to explore that idea of really naming and shaming some of the LGUs that are not complying and also rewarding those that have fully implemented the 100-percent smoke-free environments,” she added.

The smoking ban is contained in Executive Order 26 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last May.

The order bars smoking in enclosed public places and public utility vehicles and the selling of tobacco products to minors. It also prohibits minors from smoking, selling and buying cigarettes and other tobacco products. Selling or distributing tobacco in a school, public playground and other areas frequented by minors is also not allowed.

Duterte also ordered the creation of a smoke-free task force in all cities and municipalities to help implement the provisions of the order. The order will take effect on July 22.

Ubial admitted that establishments that put up indoor smoking areas may have difficulty complying with the order.

“So we’re advising establishments to actually, hopefully, just establish outdoor designated smoking areas because it’s easier to comply with that,” the Health chief said.

“We are expecting that there might be some non-compliance but I hope that our people would see the light of complying with the Executive Order because there will be sanctions,” she added.

Ubial said individuals who violate the order would be slapped with fines ranging from P500 to P10,000 depending on the number of offenses. Owners of establishments who do not comply will pay a P5,000 fine or may be imprisoned.

Ubial said 48 countries, including the Philippines, have smoke-free policies.

“Hopefully, the Philippines will be one of the leaders in this endeavor. We’re part of the 48 now,” Ubial said.

“Australia is actually leading the way. But, we hope the Philippines will be among the leaders. We have 189 countries… members of the World Health Organization,” she added.

Duterte also implemented a smoking ban in public places when he was mayor of Davao City.