PRRD signs executive order on nationwide smoking ban

Health advocates have long-battled tobacco lobbyists and the eight firms now making cigarettes in the country.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order banning smoking in public across the second-most populous country in Southeast Asia, one of the region's strictest anti-tobacco laws.

Ubial said Duterte signed the executive order on Tuesday, which sets strict guidelines on designated areas where smoking is prohibited or may be allowed, with breaches attracting a maximum penalty of four months in jail and a fine up to 5,000 pesos (100 US dollars).

More than a quarter of Filipinos smoke, according to a 2015 World Health Organization report, including 11 percent of minors.

Abella said that the current ban replicates an ordinance Duterte created in 2012 in his southern hometown of Davao City. A former smoker, Mr Duterte quit cigarettes and drinking decades ago, when he was found to suffer from two rare conditions, Barrett's esophagus and Buerger's disease.

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Selling or distributing and promoting or advertising tobacco products in places frequented by minors or within 100 meters of such locations is also prohibited.

A DSA shall also have a non-smoking buffer zone.

All cities and municipalities nationwide are also "enjoined to form a local Smoke-Free Task Force", which will help impose the provisions of EO No. 26.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, better known for his offensive statements and crackdown on drugs, now has a new enemy: smoking.

Gangs of vigilantes have taken seriously the president's call to slaughter addicts.

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The ban comes with punishments of up to five years in prison and a 5,000 peso ($100) fine, The New York Times reports.

Mr Duterte's predecessor, Benigno S. Aquino III, had signed a law in 2014 requiring bold graphic health warnings on all cigarette packages, but studies show it has done little to stub the vice in this country of 104 million.

The Philippine Tobacco Institute was not immediately available for comment.

"This is a victory for us", said Maricar Limpin, executive director of Action on Smoking and Health Philippines. Small neighbourhood stores in the Philippines commonly sell single cigarettes even to minors, who often say they are running errands for their elders.

Children who are exposed to smoking, Arandia said, are at higher risk of acquiring respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and cancer. The report said that only a few governments appropriately tax tobacco products, missing out on a "proven, low-priced measure to curb demand".

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"By 2020, when we do the next survey, we expect nearly or even higher reduction in cigarette prevalence", she told CNN Philippines.

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