Ban on Smoking in Public Places in Manila

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The World Health Organization’s data on Filipino smokers indicates that about 60 percent of men smoke. A recent survey of Filipino adult smokers found 99.8 percent cited tobacco advertisements as one factor for initiating smoking. More than half of Filipino households are not smoke-free. About 200,000 Filipino men will develop smoking-related diseases in their productive years of age. Every year, there are about 20,000 smoking-related deaths in the country.

On May 30, 2011, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) promised to enforce RA 9211 known also as the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003. The Republic Act No. 9211, banned smoking in public places and mandated designated Smoking and Non-Smoking Areas for public and privately owned establishments.

Representatives from the PMFTC , Inc. threaten that they are prepared to take action against MMDA’s initiative to ban cigarette smoking in public places. PMFTC a joint venture corporation of Philip Morris and Fortune Tobacco, controls 92% of the cigarette market in the Philippines.
Strict enforcement of the ban is supported by multiple stakeholders including the New Vois Association of the Philippines and several School Chiefs including Rhona Silva. This support is strongly challenged by advocates against the ban, namely the Federation of Philippine Industries and PMFTC .

A campaign will be mounted to try and dispel any widely held belief among Filipino people that “everybody smokes”. It is essential to promote the fact that smoking is not the normal thing to do. A campaign will be launched by people within the community, with staff and students of local schools to dispel this belief. Distribution of wristbands targeting adolescents and adults along with other tools such as posters, leaflets, and 1:1 counseling/mentoring sessions, in addition to, media campaigns and community activities in support of the ban will be the focus.

 

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3 Responses to “Ban on Smoking in Public Places in Manila”

  1. reyneriosepelanoymd Says:

    Filipino legislators will never run out of bills to pass. There are numerous laws and regulations passed every year but none of them gets enforced. I will digress for a moment, and explain myself, being a Filipino who lives and works in the US. Every time I come home to visit, one of the things that terrify me most is navigating through the streets of Manila. (I know this is totally unrelated but just be patient and I will make my point clear.) You will see cops all over the place yet traffic is horrendous and drivers do not follow traffic rules. It is total chaos. Yes, there are regulations, much like the tobacco regulatory act (RA 9211). But they are not enforced. They are only laws, and they look good on paper.

    I commend you for pushing the agendum of educating the citizenry but my gut tells me that this type of intervention will only probably work for the more educated classes.

    Banning smoking in public places will only work if the local government benefits from the fines that they exact from violators. But who is going to enforce the ban and collect the fines? In Manila where violent crimes happen every half-a-minute, the last thing a police officer would want to do is arrest someone for smoking in public places. That is of course, if we are going to put teeth in that regulation. If the MMDA is really serious about this ban, then they should deploy cops for that specific reason.

    In my humble opinion, the Philippine government needs to levy steeper taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products and stop dispensing cigarettes by the stick. This should be the first order of business. A pack of cigarettes in Manila only costs about fifty cents (US$) and at this price, even the poor can still afford to smoke. By taxing, and simply raising the price of tobacco, a huge segment of the urban population will be forced to quit smoking. This sounds very simplistic but this is evidence-based public health policy. Yet the Philippine government imposes only on nominal tax increases on tobacco products. (It’s for the sake of claiming that the government did increase tobacco tax.) In a country where politicians can be bought and tobacco lobbyists have unlimited cash flow, one can only hope that advocacy is mightier than the Peso so it will finally work its way into the legislative system for the good of the common Filipino.

  2. castroiris15 Says:

    Advertisements play a big part in influencing Filipino behavior. Particularly adolescents and young professionals are highly vulnerable to be duped and to be swayed by advertisements that they believe are likely to place them on a “higher status level” as many think that smoking is the “cool” thing to do because so many others are smoking as well. In addition, celebrities play a big role in influencing behaviors of the “common” people. It would be accurate to say that so many of the Filipino youth do idolize celebrities that they will strive to imitate them. In addition, so many young people are uneducated and have little concern for their own health. Therefore, I suggest that the campaign should aim to use known celebrities and effective advertisements to successfully promote their message that smoking does have an adverse impact on one’s health.

    I laud the MMDA’s stance on enforcing a ban on smoking in public places. However, because of the corruption that is intertwined in nearly all institutions and organizations in the Philippines, I have my doubts about the eventual enforcement of this law. I believe that the Philippines will only move forward in ensuring the overall health of its citizens if lawmakers begin to address their own corruption first.

  3. rehanag Says:

    Like castoioris15, I was intrigued by this blog’s reference to a survey that found that 99.8% of adult Filipino smokers cited tobacco advertisements as one factor in their decision to start smoking. In addition to public awareness campaigns about the harmful health effects of smoking, another strategy for changing the behaviors that contribute to smoking initiation might be greater restrictions on tobacco product advertisements. I take reyneriosepelanoymd’s point that additional regulations, without accompanying enforcement and anti-corruption measures, would likely have little effect, but advertising controls can often be implemented without new legislation and with minimal potential for corruption, especially if authority is located in a transparent sector of the government where corporate influence would be relatively easy for outside organizations to follow. In addition, the Philippines is a party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which includes numerous tobacco control measures, including restrictions on advertising. Greater international pressure on the Phillipines to comply with the Convention might help reduce the number of Filipinos exposed to the apparently influential effect of tobacco advertisements.

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