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Oct 11, 2016
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Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial has announced that President Rodrigo Duterte is set to sign an executive order (EO) that will implement a no-smoking policy nationwide.

That said, smokers all over the country are now either in denial ("Nah! Hindi rin masusunod yan!") or quitting cold turkey.

We suggest they do the latter fast.

The no-smoking policy that's set to be implemented nationwide was adopted from Davao City's New Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance of 2012. The said ordinance is the latest version of the strict anti-smoking ordinance that was implemented in 2002 by the then-Davao City mayor.

As expected, Davao City's no-smoking rules are pretty strict. It covers all kinds of public spaces.

It prohibits the smoking of any tobacco product—including e-cigarettes, shishas, and the like—in all accommodations and entertainment establishments, workplaces, enclosed public places, partially enclosed public places, public buildings, public outdoor spaces, and all public conveyances, government-owned vehicles and other means of public transport within the territorial jurisdiction of Davao City."

Moreover, the ordinance stipulates that "the designated smoking area of commercial and business establishments must now be located in an open outdoor space with no permanent or temporary roof or walls located 10 meters away from entrances or exits with an area not larger than 5 square meters."

"Violators face penalties based on the frequency of their offense: P1,000 fine or month-long jail time for the first offense, P2,500 or two-month jail time for the second offense, and P5,000 or four-months in jail for the third offense," reports CNN Philippines.

The owners of establishments caught violating the provision will be fined a maximum of P5,000 or they face four months in jail.

These strict rules have worked. In fact, the World Health Organization noted that Davao City's smoking policy "demonstrates that smoke-free laws can work in the Philippines."

But can the rest of the country ditch cigarettes just like that?

Perhaps, they should be reminded that when asked about Davao City's strict anti-smoking rules, Duterte had been quoted as saying, "If you have to protect the public, you must be brutal about it."

Just how brutal will Duterte get to make sure the no-smoking policy is followed?

Exhibit A: In 2015, the Inquirer reported that Duterte had a run-in with a local tourist at a restaurant who supposedly refused to follow Davao City's anti-smoking rules.

Manny Piñol—a Duterte ally—had related in a Facebook post: "Duterte calmly sat beside the smoker, pulled out a snub-nosed .38 revolver and poked it at the man's crotch."

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Duterte reportedly told the smoker: "Papiliin kita: barilin ko ang bayag mo, i-preso kita, o kainin mo ang upos ng sigarilyo mo."

Needless to say, the man wanted to keep his crown jewels. So, he swallowed the cigarette butt.

In the past, other areas in the Philippines have also tried to implement anti-smoking ordinances. However, most haven't been successful.

With Duterte now pushing this no-smoking policy, maybe non-smokers can finally be free from secondhand smoke from rude smokers.

However, this policy also hurts the considerate smokers, the ones who smoke only when other smokers are around. They're also prevented from getting their nicotine fix. Then again, they should just recall what Duterte said to that local tourist.

Because in the end, we have to admit, it's not the astronomical fines that will make people quit smoking. It's the thought of Duterte possibly pointing a gun at their crotches and making them swallow their cigarette butts.

While there are probably those who will remain defiant and smoke where they please, it will be a matter of time before they are smoked out by a strict law with enforcers who have been told that it's OK to be brutal when public health is at stake.

If that doesn't make them quit cold turkey, we don't know what will.

 

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