Reports that President Rodrigo Duterte will soon sign an executive order to implement a no-smoking policy in all public places is making our buddies go cold turkey. The president seems bent on replicating the no-smoking ban he instituted in Davao City when he was mayor because as he says, the vice will only make people ill and inflict harm on those who suffer in silence inhaling secondhand smoke. The Philippine Statistics Authority cites the 2009 Global Adult Tobacco Survey that says there are 17.3 million Filipinos aged 15 and above who are tobacco smokers, but it’s possible that the number is much higher now.
With the ban, smokers will no longer be able indulge their habit in restaurants, bus or jeepney terminals and even inside these public vehicles. Non-smokers particularly moms and wives received the news about the nationwide smoking ban with glee. Tobacco farmers, however, are not happy, because they see their source of livelihood going up in smoke. Farmers from Claveria, Misamis Oriental for instance are saddened since they see the planting of Virginia tobacco as a gold mine since the crop can be harvested year-round and fetches a better price than other cash crops like corn or beans. Besides, the farmers have a ready market for their tobacco leaves at a fixed price courtesy of a major tobacco manufacturing company.
The experience of Claveria farmers though seems the opposite of the results of a study conducted by the Action for Economic Reforms, an activist policy group affiliated with the American Cancer Society, that says four out of 10 farmers are not happy with their earnings from tobacco. The study, called “The Economics of Tobacco Farming in the Philippines,” involved more than 400 tobacco farmers across six tobacco-growing regions in the country. The study began in 2014 but the results were released just recently.
The findings say that while tobacco farmers are assured of a buyer, they have no say in determining the price for their harvest and even end up getting indebted. Tobacco farming requires a lot of physical work but the rewards are not really that great based on the responses of the survey participants.
Stoolies are convinced that after the smoking ban, a nationwide liquor ban in public places is next. Wait—does this mean people will no longer be allowed to drink in restaurants, same as the smoking ban?
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