THE Department of Health has assured that the expectation that President Rodrigo R. Duterte will implement the “100 percent smoke-free Philippines” policy will soon be realized.
According to Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial, they have already drafted the papers for the implementation of the said policy under an Executive Order that will prohibit smoking across the country.
She said that in a recent Cabinet meeting wherein she presented the Philippine Health Agenda for 2016-2022, she told President Duterte that the draft EO just needs his signature.
“The President will already sign that EO... Probably within October,” Ubial said in an interview with the media.
She also shared how interested the President is in implementing the said EO, even telling her to just copy the no-smoking resolution they had implemented in Davao City when he was still the mayor there.
In response, she told the President that they had done that.
“So with that, what is being done in Davao is set to be done nationwide,” the Health chief said.
With the upcoming signing of the EO, she said that the dream to make all public places in the country 100 percent smoke-free is now possible.
It can be recalled that just two weeks ago, President Duterte reiterated his plan to ban smoking in the country, saying it only brings diseases to both the smokers and victims of second-hand smoke.
Aside from the EO, the Health secretary said they are also set to make a strong lobbying to Congress for the amendment of the existing Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 or Republic Act No. 9211.
She said that by amending R.A. 9211, they (together with other government agencies mandated to implement it) will be able to eliminate other contentious tobacco control policies.
“We are still trying to explore amending R.A. 9211 because of the many contentious issues and gray areas [in its implemenation],” she added.
Some of these issues pertain to the point-of-sale advertisements as well as in the designation of smoking areas.
“What we want is to remove the gray areas in the current law and totally prohibit point-of-sale advertisements as well as designation of indoor smoking areas,” Dr. Ubial said.
Meanwhile, other advocates pushing for the no-smoking EO have said it is important that young people will not be hooked to smoking because of the many health problems that are caused by such habit.
The said EO is one of the two executive orders that the Health chief earlier presented in the priority Health Agenda as she informed the President of the urgency to sign them as part of the innovative solutions in addressing the health problems and enhancing the government’s response mechanism.
The other proposed EO pertains to the zero unmet need for family planning which seeks to provide family planning services and commodities to anyone who needs and asks for it after being counseled about it through free choice.