A new smoking ban is coming to the Philippines, as President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order this week to prohibit smoking and the use of e-cigarettes in all public places, including on sidewalks.
This is the second time that Duterte has enacted such a ban; in 2002 he banned smoking in Davao City when he was mayor. Executive Order 26, which is what was announced on Thursday, not only prohibits smoking in public places but bans the sale of tobacco within 100 meters of schools, playgrounds, or places where children congregate. While local municipalities can designate smoking areas, they must be a significant distance from such areas, as well as from health centers, food preparation areas, gas stations and health centers.
It also establishes a minimum age of 18-years-old to purchase, use, or sell tobacco products.
Violators of the smoking ban face significant punishment, including up to four months in prison and fines of 5,000 pesos, roughly $100.
Of particular intrigue in the order is a call on civilians to join a task force in helping carry out the order, including apprehending and charging violators. A similar move in Duterte’s ban on drug use has led to the death of thousands of suspected drug users and dealers, including by gangs of vigilantes taking the law into their own hands.
Duterte is a former smoker and has been quite vocal about his stance since quitting decades ago.
The ban will be felt by a good number of Filipinos, as upwards of 25 percent of the country smokes, according to a 2015 report by the World Health Organization. Men make up the majority of that group, as the report says that 44.7 of adult Filipino men smoke. Additionally, 11 percent of youth are reported to be cigarette smokers.
It is set to go into effect in approximately 60 days, following its required publication in national newspapers.