Since the issuance of Executive Order No. 26 by President Rodrigo Duterte two years ago, some 86 cities have passed their respective Smoke-Free ordinances that conform to the said Executive Order, according to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said that since the issuance of the landmark Executive Order, “we saw an active adoption by Local Government Units of smoke-free policies on the protection of the public from exposure to tobacco smoke, establishing Designated Smoking Areas (DSAs), and creating Smoke-free Task Force, among others.”
He said that the DILG and Health Justice jointly conducted an assessment of local ordinances in cities across the country to find out if they were consistent with the specific provisions of EO 26.
The study revealed that some 86 cities have passed Smoke-Free Ordinances that provide for 100% smoke-free places that are consistent with EO 26 while some 48 cities have designated smoking areas (DSA) in their respective localities.
“While this is a relatively high number, there are still cities which are not compliant with smoke-free policies especially as enumerated in EO 26. Smoke-free means 100% free from tobacco smoke, where it cannot be seen, smelled, sensed or measured,” said Malaya.
Sixty-five cities, on the other hand, have created their Smoke-Free Task Forces which ensures that smoke-free policies are followed. “This can be attributed to the strong resolve of the government to promote smoke-free environments,” he said.
Malaya particularly lauded the efforts of Davao City, Balanga City and Iloilo City for expanding their smoke-free environments over and above what the law specifies as these cities impose a prohibition on smoking in all public places except in DSAs identified by the LGU.
He also commended Taguig City and Cotabato City which have adopted the engineering standards on DSA under the EO, as well as Baguio City, Marikina City, and Pasig City which have comprehensively designed their respective Smoke-free Task Forces.
While the numbers are encouraging, Malaya said the study recommends that cities must declare absolutely 100% smoke-free areas identified in EO 26 and at the minimum, their standards of designated smoking areas must be aligned to the engineering requirements set forth in the EO.
“Cities are also encouraged to establish smoke-free task forces to ensure the sustainability of implementation and enforcement of EO 26 in their respective localities,” he added.
Two years after the issuance of EO 26, the DILG is urging all local government units (LGUs) to prioritize the enactment of ordinances that would establish 100% smoke-free places “to ensure that our communities are safe from the ill effects of direct and second-hand smoking.”
“We are elated by how local government units (LGUs) and the public showed their support to this advocacy and we hope that we will see more LGUs taking the President’s directive seriously and with greater urgency because this concerns the health of our citizenry,” the DILG Undersecretary said.
EO 26 which was issued by the President in 2017 bans smoking in enclosed public spaces and transportation, schools, and recreational facilities for minors, and also sets strict guidelines on designated smoking areas (DSAs).
A recent Pulse Asia Survey showed that one in four adult Filipinos are smokers. The effects of smoking harm the smoker, and the people and community around them through second-hand smoking.
“We cannot underestimate the dangers of smoking and exposure through second-hand smoking. The cooperation of LGUs and support of partner agencies on EO 26 are necessary as we inch closer to our goal of a Smoke-Free Philippines,” the DILG Spokesperson said.
The DILG directed LGUs to regulate smoking in public areas as enabled by Section 16 of the Local Government Code which says that LGUs shall ensure and support the general welfare of their communities.
Since 2017, the Department bolstered policies and measures against smoking and the purchases and advertisement of tobacco products. Signage on the prohibition on smoking has been made visible in government buildings, schools, churches, and other public areas. Local smoke-free task forces have also been established.