In 2014, Philippines had 17 million smokers, which represents nearly a third of the adult population, but nearly half of all Philippino men.
Smoking is said to cause USD4bn expenses a year in healthcare and productivity losses.
In 2015, one out of 13 cigarettes sold by Philip Morris globally was purchased in the Philippines.
The Philippino president, Rodrigo Duterte, has recently signed an executive order banning smoking in public. This anti-tobacco law, one of the strictest in the region, is actually quite similar to an ordinance he created in 2012 in Davao.
Davao, his home town, is often considered as a laboratory to test his ideas before he became president. This represents a total change of heart for Duterte. He used to be a heavy smoker. But he suddenly quit smoking when he was diagnosed with Buerger’s disease, which can cause blockages in the blood vessels.
The ban covers indoor and outdoor smoking, for which the maximum penalty will consist in a 4-month jail time and fine of 5,000 pesos (around USD100). It comes as an addition to existing anti-smoking regulation on tobacco advertisements, promotions and sponsorship.
With this new regulation, Duterte abides by his electoral promises. Indeed, he said he would be tough on criminals, the corrupt, and drug pushers and users and that he will work to uproot vices one by one, such as smoking and illegal gambling. Smoking cessation programs are also being developed to help reduce tobacco use.
Vaping is also target by this anti-smoking regulation
Vaping is included in this new anti-smoking regulation. The argument is that since electronic cigarettes contain nicotine, they are considered as part of the tobacco / cigarette health problem.
Police-led anti-smoking taskforces will be created in towns and cities. Raids have already started in Davao, where a similar ban has been in force for the past few years. Anti-smoking regulations units intend to enforce the regulation. Their goal is to inflict a major blow to the numerous vape bars that have started to proliferate.