The Cebu Provincial Health Office (PHO), one of the implementers of Executive Order No. 26, otherwise known as the nationwide ban on smoking, intends to strictly enforce President Rodrigo Duterte’s order across the province; while striking a good balance to ensure that the rights of smokers are also respected.
“(The) anti-smoking campaign… anti-smoking program… I personally will always support (the ban) and the PHO will support on the context of health. But it has to be put on the basis of the smokers’ own right to smoke,” said provincial health officer Dr. Rene Catan.
Catan explained that while PHO will find ways to institutionalize the smoking ban in the province, they will also consider the people’s right to smoke by allowing it in limited areas.
To strengthen EO No. 26, the PHO will push for the passage of a provincial ordinance aimed to support the nationwide ban on smoking in all public places.
“Smoking is as old as man, when we started planting tobacco and getting the high of smoking,” said Catan, adding that the high smokers get from cigarettes and tobacco eventually leads to nicotine addiction.
Catan said that once a local ordinance is passed, the PHO will designate smoking areas in the province to fully implement the President’s order.
At City Hall, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said that the smoking ban may affect the city’s economy.
“Smokers are an economic force,” Osmeña said, pointing out the revenues generated from sin taxes on cigarettes and tobacco.
Osmeña also believes the ban will affect tourism in the city.
“It will affect. It affects tourism in Davao because you cannot smoke anywhere,” Osmeña said, referring to Davao City’s tough anti-smoking ordinance passed in 2002 during the incumbency of then mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte’s recently signed EO No. 26 prohibits smoking in all public places and enclosed areas including public vehicles and other means of transport.
The order sets out Designated Smoking Areas (DSA) but these shall not be located within 10 meters from entrances, exits or any place where people pass or congregate.
The EO, which takes effect 60 days from publication on the official gazette, also bans minors from using, selling, or buying cigarette or tobacco products.
The sale of these products is also prohibited within 100 meters from places frequented by minors.
The tale of two smokers
Out of curiosity, Marvin Maning once tried smoking in college ten years ago; but quit less than two months after.
“The realization if I continued smoking was all health reasons for me and the people I love, and it is very costly in the long run,” he told Cebu Daily News.
Maning, now at 36, favors EO 26 as it gives non-smokers like him protection from the hazards of second-hand smoke.
“I have had my share of smoking before, and I have always been careful where to smoke and who I am with when smoking,” Maning added.
Just like Maning, Neil Yap, a 32-year old businessman from Barangay Pardo, Cebu City, also favors the nationwide ban.
“I feel grateful that our President is on top in making our country cleaner and a livable place,” Yap said.
Yap, who started smoking at 18 years old consuming one pack of cigarettes every month, said that he seldom lights up a cigarette and only during drinking sessions with his friends.
“I feel annoyed every time I sense someone is smoking nearby. If you don’t care about your health, please be sensitive for others that might get sick (of your) second hand smoking,” Yap said.with