The celebration of World No Tobacco Day on May 31 ushered in the observance of June as National No-Smoking Month in the Philippines. The nationwide observance is pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 183, s. 1993. Led by the Department of Health (DOH), the nationwide observance seeks to heighten public awareness on the ill effects of smoking, and encourage smokers to kick the habit. According to a 2015 World Health Organization (WHO) report, more than a quarter of Filipinos (including 11 percent who are minors) smoke.
Last May 16, 2017, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) No. 26 “Providing for the Establishment of Smoke-Free Environments in Public and Enclosed Places.” The EO was issued cognizant of the scientific evidence that has “unequivocably established that tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke cause death, disease and disability, lead to devastating health, social, economic, and environmental consequences, and place burdens on families, on the poor, and on national and local health systems.”
The EO also noted the increasing number of Filipinos who become afflicted with and die each year of tobacco-related diseases such as stroke, heart disease, emphysema, various cancers, and nicotine addiction, and both the public and workers in facilities where smoking is allowed are the most at risk from these and other tobacco-related diseases. The EO declares the following as unlawful and prohibited: smoking within enclosed public places and public conveyances, except in designated smoking areas (DSAs) fully compliant with the requirements prescribed; for any person to sell, distribute, or purchase tobacco products to and from minors; for a minor to smoke, sell, or buy cigarettes or any other tobacco products; ordering or compelling a minor to use, light up, buy, sell, distribute, deliver, advertise, or promote tobacco products; selling or distributing tobacco products in a school, public playground, youth hostels, and recreational facilities for minors, including those frequented by minors or within 100 meters from any point of the perimeter of these places; and placing, posting, displaying, or distributing advertisement and promotional materials of tobacco products within 100 meters from the perimeter of a school, public playground, and/or facilities frequented particularly by minors, hostel and recreational facilities for minors, including those frequented by them.
The observance of June as No Smoking Month throughout the country is a very important reminder to those concerned of the serious effects of smoking to the smoker, and those exposed to second-hand smoke (exhaled by the smoker in a room) and third-hand smoke (residual nicotine and other chemicals left on a variety of indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke). The public should heed the warnings and spare themselves and their loved ones from deadly tobacco-related diseases.