The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is encouraging local government units (LGUs) to support the nationwide smoking ban by creating their respective Smoke-Free Task Forces that will help implement the ban in the communities.
The nationwide smoking ban took effect last July 22, 2017 after President Duterte signed Executive Order 26 which mandates the establishment of a smoke-free environment in public and enclosed spaces.
In a directive, the DILG calls on LGUs to immediately organize a local Smoke-Free Task Force that will be responsible for the apprehension of violators and the institution of criminal proceedings for violations of the EO.
The said Task Force is expected to work closely with the Philippine National Police (PNP) in implementing the order including the apprehension of violators.
DILG Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs Epimaco V. Densing III stresses that the commitment of LGUs is crucial to successfully execute the order as factors like proximity and familiarity with the communities within their jurisdiction is vital in its implementation.
"We put a premium in prioritizing public health which is why the LGUs' full participation and commitment are required as they are key for the success and proper implementation of EO 26," says Densing.
"Napakaimportante ang mga LGU at barangay kasi sila ang nasa ground," he adds. "Hopefully, maitayo na agad ang mga Smoke-Free Task Force para ma-implement na ng buo ang EO at maminimize ang paniningarilyo hanggang sa mga komunidad."
The Assistant Secretary also encourages the public to use Hotline 8888 to send in their complaints of establishments and individuals not complying with the order.
"Huwag kayong matakot, ngayon na ang panahon para makisali sa pagbabago, magreklamo kayo at within a few days tutugon ang ating mga ahensya," he says.
The DILG also urges LGUs to develop, promote and implement Local Smoking Cessation Program consistent with the National Smoking Cessation program of the Department of Health.
Smokers who are willing to quit or those who found violating the EO may be referred to the Local Smoking Cessation Program and its facilities.
According to DILG, even prior to its implementation, the EO has been gaining huge support from the public.
Catherine Villafuerte, a mother of two from Bulacan, is elated with the passage of the order and is looking forward to its implementation.
"EO 26 is really timely as it will ensure that Filipinos will be free of smoke from cigarettes which is harmful to the health, as a mother, I am firmly supporting this order from the President " says Villafuerte.