IN A big "sari-sari" store situated near Cogon market, there was a note in one of the store's glass panels telling costumers not to light a smoke since they are not allowed anymore to do so. Amusingly, the note came with a photo of President Rodrigo Duterte captured his aggressive mood.
Almost a year ago, Duterte signed the Executive Order (EO 26) Number 26, or the establishment of smoke-free environments in public and encosed places. This is known as the nationwide smoking ban.
The EO further supplements an already existing law, Relpublic Act 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003.
However, despite all this, its implementation remains a challenge. Even the owner of that store in Cogon still sells cigarette sticks and even in cases. This is a reality that is still lamented by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines, Action for Smoking and Health (FCTCap-Ash).
Dr. Maricar Limpin, in a media seminar organized by Probe Media Foundation Inc. yesterday in Quezon City, revealed that the high demand for tobacco control was unmet by current financial limitations of grantees doing policies related to anti-smoking drives.
In fact, she wanted some local government officials equally accountable for not doing a serious implementation of the smoking ban in their jurisdiction.
As of June 2016, the group reported that at least 103 municipalities, 20 cities and two provinces actively enforcing Framework Convention on Tobacco Control ordinances. This was even before EO 26 was signed by the president and implemented.
The issue on smoking is basically a conflict of necessities. Our government "need" the tobacco industry because of the hefty taxes it pays. But our government also has a mandate to protect the health and welfare of the public. This is a reality that we are always in end up in an uncomfortable compromising situation.