The Health department said Monday that the nationwide smoking ban will take effect on Saturday, July 22 as it urged establishments to create more outdoor designated smoking areas (DSAs) to comply with the requirements of President Rodrigo Duterte’s new executive order.
In a Palace news briefing, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said that there will be “no grace period” for smokers to adjust with the EO’s requirements, even if the Implementing Rules and Regulations—the set guidelines to assure compliance with the executive order—were still being finalized.
“We’ll just have to see how the establishments will comply,” Ubial said, adding that local government units will take the lead in implementing the nationwide ban.
“Unfortunately there’s a lot of vetting that has to be done with all the key stakeholders, the other government agencies. So it’s taking quite some time to issue the IRR,” she said.
Ubial suggested that establishments should put up DSAs outdoors since indoor ones, with their many requirements, are much harder to put up.
“We’re advising establishments to actually, hopefully, just establish outdoor designated smoking areas because it’s easier to comply with that,” she said.
Indoor DSAs require a non-smoking buffer zone with automatic door closer between the DSA and the rest of the building or vehicle. It should also not be within 10 meters of doors, areas where people congregate, or air intake ducts.
She likewise admitted that it is a challenge for both private establishments and local governments to comply with the executive order by July 22.
“There’s a lot of work to be done by the local government unit so it depends on how they move forward in terms of the task force, in terms of the information education materials, and in terms of having the private facilities also comply with designated smoking areas,” she said.
The smoking ban, or Executive Order No. 26 was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on May 16. It aims to establish “smoke-free environments in public and enclosed places.
“The Philippines bans smoking in public places under Republic Act 9211 or The Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, and has been a signatory to a tobacco control treaty for more than a decade.
Vapes and e-cigarettes however, are not included in the smoking ban, but local government units can implement an ordinance.