Smoking ban implementation remains a challenge: DOH

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MANILA , Philippines— The implementation of the smoking ban in the country remains a challenge, says Health Secretary Francisco Doque III.

“It is easy to have an Executive Order (EO)  issued but the success of implementation is another story,” Doque noted.

On May 16, 2017 or  five months ago, President Rodrigo Duterte signed EO No. 26  but the order has yet to fully take off, as local government units and health authorities are facing challenge.

Smokers especially in Metro Manila struggles to find Designated Smoking Area (DSA) a provision which is clearly elaborated in the order.

But in reality, not all establishment provides for it, resulting to smokers complaining or hiding like criminals.

Unlike in big hotels catering to foreign guests, DSA is defined and placed in an area where non-smokers are not allowed.

At the Manila airports, the DSA is not properly defined in some areas it is located under the heat of the sun.

In Davao City, smoking is strictly prohibited in public places but business establishments have defined the DSA.

In other countries like Singapore and Turkey, the DSA is clearly identified and even their airports have it but the area is properly secured and has a warning for non-smokers not to go.

In the Philippines, Dpque said the  health department has yet to know the real challenges which LGUs encounter in the implementation in order to identify  and find ways to address them.

“We want to know what are the real implementation challenges,” he added.

Doque said they will talk about the experiences of those who were recognized as experts on the program, such as Davao and Makati who were among the recipients of Red Orchid Awards.

The said award is given to LGUs who have outstanding efforts and initiatives on creating a smoke-free environment.

Executive Order No. 26 took effect last July that prohibited smoking in all enclosed public places and public conveyances, except in designated smoking areas on a nationwide basis.

Under the said EO, the LGUs were directed to create a task force that will implement what the law provides for those who commit violations which include penalties.-Editha Z. Caduaya/Newsline.ph with report from PNA

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