THE New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) on Saturday said the distinct track record of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte in curbing smoking in Davao City during his term as mayor is already enough to give them confidence in seeing a smoke-free Philippines soon.
In a statement, NVAP said they expect Duterte to be unwavering in his desire to implement a no smoking policy all over the Philippines just like what he did when he was Davao City mayor.
“We are confident that incoming President Duterte will carry out his earlier declaration of imposing a nationwide smoking ban. There is no doubt on his political will as he has already shown this in making Davao City smoke-free since 2002,” said NVAP President Emer Rojas.
It should be noted that Davao City had been hailed by the World Health Organization for its smoke-free policy since 2002, which is the first in the Philippines.
Rojas said one of the good starting points for the incoming administration would be the strict implementation of the smoke-free policy in schools and its perimeters.
“The youth have been targeted by tobacco companies as ‘replacement smokers’. Therefore, it is only logical to start the campaign in achieving a smoke-free Philippines in schools and universities,” said Rojas.
According to Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act, smoking shall be absolutely prohibited in playschools, preparatory schools, elementary schools, high schools, colleges, and universities.
Also, Section 10 of RA 9211 states that sale or distribution of tobacco products is prohibited within 100 meters from any point of the perimeter of a school.
But while NVAP is looking forward to the Duterte administration, it did not fail to express gratitude to outgoing President Aquino.
Rojas said the group continues to be grateful over Aquino’s act of signing of Republic Act 10351 or the “Sin Tax Reform Law”, and the Republic Act No. 10643 or the “Graphic Health Warnings Law”.
“Among President Aquino’s legacy shall always be the signing of the two measures that are proving to be effective tools in curbing the tobacco menace in the country: the Sin Tax law and the GHW law. These two policies will forever be associated to the Aquino administration,” said Rojas.
What is more impressive, according to Rojas, is that the two laws were enacted by a president, who is known to be a chain smoker.
“Being a smoker himself proved to be a non-factor for President Aquino as it did not stop him from considering what would be beneficial for all Filipinos, which is to save them from developing smoking-related illnesses, through these tobacco control policies,” said Rojas.
It was back in December 2012 when Aquino signed the Sin Tax law, which aims to make tobacco products more inaccessible to the public, especially the poor and the youth, by having their tax rates increased.
The GHW law, meanwhile, was approved by Aquino last July 2014 in a bid to make it mandatory for tobacco companies to put pictures of the ill-effects of smoking in every cigarette pack sold in the market. (HDT/Sunnex)