Smoking ban in Manila public places starts May 30

Posted at 05/27/11 6:28 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Starting next week, smokers will be unwelcome in public places along major and secondary roads of the metropolis.

Officers from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), together with the 17 local government units (LGU) of Metro Manila, will prohibit lighting up in bus terminals, waiting sheds, schools, hospitals, recreational places and inside public utility vehicles starting May 30 as part of a joint campaign to protect Filipinos from secondhand smoke.

The smoking ban came just in time for the World No Tobacco Day celebration on June 1. New York-based Bloomberg Philanthropies has approved a P9.5-million grant for the program.

"We'll be launching an information campaign so people will know that smoking will be prohibited in certain areas of main roads of the metropolis," Dr. Loida Alzona, division chief of MMDA's public health safety and environment protection, said in an interview on ANC's "Top Story" on Friday.

MMDA's "environmental enforcers" will issue warnings to those who will be caught violating the provisions of Republic Act 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 for the month of June.

Alzona said penalties, which include fines and community service, will take effect in July.

While it supports the smoking ban in areas like schools, hospitals and public facilities, the Philippine Tobacco Institute (PTI) said it is against the smoking ban in major and secondary roads in Metro Manila.

PTI argued that the roads are not included in RA 9211's list of prohibited places, and hoped that the MMDA will reconsider its decision to implement the anti-smoking campaign.

Data from the Department of Health (DOH) and the World Health Organization showed that smoking kills 10 Filipinos every hour, or 80,000 every year. -- With a report from ANC