As the Department of Health marks its 121st founding anniversary, we look at one of the landmark programs that continues to ensure a healthier and smoke-free Philippines, the Anti-Smoking program.
To put flesh into the intent and substance of Republic Act No 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, Executive Order No 26 was signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on May 16, 2017 and took effect on July 23, 2017. Entitled “Providing for the Establishment of Smoke-Free Environments in Public and Enclosed Places, EO 26 emphasized the need to strengthen measures to minimize access, especially among minors, to tobacco products. Included in the EO were strict guidelines accessing restriction of tobacco products, including sales, distribution and availability. The EO is also aligned with the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control or FCTC.
DOH has stated that the Philippines is second only to Indonesia in terms of tobacco consumption in Southeast Asia. Data from ourworldindata.org shows that in 2012, 14.47 million Filipinos smoked daily. The data also reveals that on average, the Filipino smoker consumers 21.40 cigarettes every day. Cancer deaths attributed to tobacco smoking is estimated at 22.30%, as of 2016. These numbers highlight the need to ensure that the spirit of RA 9211 is carried out, and EO 26 prescribes the mandatory measures to protect the public from the hazards of smoking.
Among the most welcomed guidelines in EO 26 are the designation of smoking areas and the total ban of smoking in schools and universities. The prohibition also includes advertising and promotional activities within a 100-meter perimeter from schools, public playgrounds and other places which minors frequent. Other prohibited acts stated in the EO are
- minors not allowed to use, buy and/or sell the aforementioned products
- smoking within enclosed public places and public conveyances
- selling, distribution or promotion of tobacco products in certain designated areas like schools, offices, recreational facilities and the like
 Daguman, D. [2017, September]. A Look at EO 26. Retrieved from http://thepalladium.ph/legal/president-duterte-approves-e-o-26-countrywide-smoking-ban/
 Official Gazette. [2017, May]. Executive Order No. 26. Retrieved from http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/downloads/2017/05may/20170516-EO-26-RRD.pdf