“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing to do. I’ve done it thousands of times.”
THERE are more jokes about trying to quit smoking than quips about smoking itself. Partly explained by statistics telling us that only few succeed: one study said that of 48.4% of Filipinos who stopped smoking 12 months before the survey, only 5% kicked off the habit.
President Duterte’s executive order (EO #26, signed last May 16) imposes a universal ban, applicable nationwide and expanding the meaning of “public places.” Health facilities, schools, areas where the youth gather, fire hazards exist or food is served, public stairways, escalators and elevators. Almost all public places, even sidewalks where “tambays” hang out and public outdoor space where crowds gather.
Ambit of the ban is expanded--plus more. Places where smokers can do their thing, called DSAs (designated smoking areas), are made fewer and more tightly regulated.
--Only one DSA in each building or conveyance. In a multi-story building, smokers will scramble for that one patch of heaven. With space at a premium in urban centers, the DSA may require admission price.
-- A space will serve as “buffer” between the DSA door and the rest of the building. More valuable floor area required.
Clearly aimed to make it tougher for smokers to find a place to light up. Would that make attempts to cut smoking easier? Maybe.
But most likely not. Overheard from a coffee-shop group talking about Duterte’s ban: “Ive been wanting to stop smoking. But I’m terrified by the fact that all people who don’t smoke die.”
Smokers go around logic. And they have patience and ways to get to a place where they can smoke. Those who suddenly vanish and reappear at dinner tables usually are smokers.
If it’s any comfort, only the EO is signed. The IRR (implementing rules & regulations) still have to be drafted. And the EO doesn’t prescribe a penalty: local governments will provide it in an ordinance.
Government offices and facilities are expected to implement the IRR promptly in their premises. In other areas, it may take some time for LGUs to pass the ordinance.
And LGUs may be less stringent in enforcing it, for their constituents but also for visitors and tourists who smoke. The EO won’t be without cost and not just to smokers.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on May 23, 2017.
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