Reminder: There's a smoking ban in transport terminals

MANILA, Philippines – In case we're forgetting, there's a national law that bans smoking in public places, including transport terminals and ports, and authorities should apprehend those violating it.

The New Vois Association, a group advocating tobacco control in the country, gave this reminder on Monday, March 30, considering that millions of Filipinos were expected to head to the provinces and congregate in churches during the Holy Week.

“We want to remind the public that there is a law prohibiting smoking in public areas, such as bus terminals, airports, seaports, and places of worship. We also appeal to our law enforcers to apprehend violators as smoke from tobacco poses dangerous health risks to second-hand smokers especially to vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with existing ailments,” said NVAP president Emer Rojas, a survivor of tobacco-related cancer.

Section 5 of the Tobacco Regulation Act (Republic Act 9211) imposes a total smoking ban in all public areas. It penalizes first-time offenders with P500-P1,000 in fine or 8-hour community work. Those who violate the law a second time can be penalized with P1,000-P5,000 fine or 16-hour community service.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority has designated smoking areas in loading and unloading bays along roads, but enforces a total smoking ban at stairwells and pedestrian footbridges.

Rojas said “there is no safe exposure to smoke” – the person puffing the cigarette as well as the person around him who involuntarily inhale the smoke are “equally affected by the harmful emission from tobacco.” (READ: Second-hand smoke and why stricter tobacco control matters)

Tobacco is said to contain to 7,000 harmful chemicals, including 70 cancer-causing ingredients. In the Philippines, close to 90,000 persons die every year from tobacco-related illnesses like cancer, stroke, and cardiovascular and respiratory ailments.

About 24 million Filipinos are exposed to tobacco smoke every day – 67% of them are exposed to second-hand smoke in their workplace, and 76% in areas where there are no smoking bans. – 

Image of a young man smoking a cigarette from Shutterstock