REELECTED Cebu City South District Rep. Rodrigo “Bebot” Abellonasa kick-started his new term by filing House Bill No. 41 that prohibits the sale and smoking in public of cigarettes every fifteenth day of the month.
To be known as the Cigarette Holiday Act, Abellanosa said HB 41 aimed to support the call of President Rodrigo Duterte for stricter anti-smoking laws.
“The legislation is not a rehash or a refile of any previous bill, and it reinforces one of our thrusts of the administration of newly-sworn President Rodrigo Duterte, which is to curb cigarette smoking,” said Abellanosa, who filed the bill on June 30.
The bill proposed that those caught selling cigarettes on the prohibited day would be made to pay a fine of P5,000 for the first offense, P25,000 for the second offense and imprisonment for one to thirty days and a fine of P50,000 for succeeding offenses.
Those caught selling cigarettes would be made to suffer a harsher penalty of P10,000 for the first offense, P50,000 for the second offense and imprisonment of one month and one day to six months and a fine of P100,000 for the succeeding offenses.
Abellanosa said he was hopeful that the bill would merit the approval of both the House and the Senate, given that Duterte himself is an anti-smoking advocate.
Abellanosa said his bill did not only consider health issues but also the practical financial aspects of quitting smoking.
He cited a 2013 statistics, which said that 200 Filipinos were killed by tobacco related diseases every day.
He also quoted a World Health Organization (WHO) study that said six million people die of tobacco-related diseases, five million of whom die from direct tobacco consumption.
The same studies showed that as of 2009, the average cigarette consumption of Filipinos was at 11 sticks per day while the average Filipino household spent around P66 for every smoker in the family.
Still, despite the staggering numbers, Abellanosa said 505,600 children and more than 15.570 million adults continue to use tobacco habitually.
Abellanosa praised the impact that Republic Act 10851 or the Sin Tax Law in reducing tobacco consumers through the increased levies imposed on tobacco products. However, he said more measures would have to be done to curb tobacco consumption.
“Everyone knows that cigarette smoking has caused many illnesses and a large portion of the world’s mortality. It is high time that we institutionalize efforts to curb its prevalence and come up with various approaches to helping our people quit smoking,” Abellanosa said./Ateneo de Manila
University Intern Maria Lelaina R. Cardeño