World

Duterte bans smoking in public

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order banning smoking in public across the second-most populous country in South-east Asia.

The order is one of the region's strictest anti-tobacco laws.

The ban, which carries a maximum penalty of four months in jail and a fine of 5,000 pesos (S$139), covers both indoor and outdoor smoking, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said yesterday.

It also covers existing bans on tobacco advertisements, promotions or sponsorship, which are subject to fines of up to 400,000 pesos and maximum jail terms of three years and possible revocation of business permits.

Mr Duterte was himself a heavy smoker but quit when he was diagnosed with Buerger's disease, which can cause blockages in the blood vessels.

The current ban replicates an ordinance Mr Duterte created in 2012 in his southern hometown of Davao City, Mr Abella said.

Mr Duterte campaigned for the presidency promising to be tough on criminals, the corrupt, and drug pushers and users.

He also vowed to uproot vices one by one, such as smoking and illegal gambling.

The Philippine Tobacco Institute, which represents tobacco interests, was not immediately available for comment. There are eight firms making cigarettes in the Philippines.

Designated smoking areas not larger than 10 sq m will be set up for adults only. They must be at least 10m from building entrances or exits, according to the order signed on Tuesday.

Police-led anti-smoking task forces will be created in towns and cities.

The smoking ban also covers "vaping" or the use of electronic cigarettes and will apply in casinos and inside airport buildings, except in designated outdoor smoking areas. - REUTERS

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