Duterte Aims to Wipe Out Smoking in Philippines

25% of the population smokes, but it's now illegal in public
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2017 11:46 AM CDT
Filipino Strongman's New Target: Smokers
A Filipino smokes by a smoking area sign outside a mall in Manila.   (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Smokers in the Philippines, look out. President Rodrigo Duterte, notorious for his brutal crackdown on drug users, now wants to wipe out smoking, too. Duterte issued a nationwide executive order Thursday banning smoking in all public places, including sidewalks. CNN reports that smoking was previously banned in schools, clinics, and government buildings, but not workplaces or restaurants. Now anyone with a cigarette, be it electronic or tobacco, must light up exclusively in designated smoking areas. The move is meant to reduce the high smoking rate in the Philippines, where, according to a WHO report, a quarter of the population smokes, including 11% of minors. Among other things, the order prohibits tobacco advertising within 330 feet of schools and playgrounds.

The New York Times reports that offenders face $100 fines, a steep price in a nation where the average monthly salary is $400, and four months in jail. Duterte, who quit smoking after being diagnosed with two rare medical conditions years ago, called on civilians to partake in a “Smoke Free Task Force" and help catch offenders. While Reuters reports that the ban has garnered support among health officials, others fear that a public task force may inspire vigilantes to take the law into their own hands, as was seen in in Duterte's call to murder addicts and users in his war on drugs. (More Rodrigo Duterte stories.)

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