Combatting smokes and smoking is tough: tobacco companies are rich and tobacco users are addicted. But the real opponent is big money. Hence, in RA 9211 (date June 23, 2003) or “An Act Regulating The Packaging, Use, Sale, Distribution And Advertisements Of Tobacco Products And For Other Purposes”, the government, despite the health hazards associated with smoking, continued to fence-sit as follows:
“It is the policy of the State to protect the populace from hazardous products and promote the right to health and instill health consciousness among them. It is also the policy of the State, consistent with the Constitutional ideal to promote the general welfare, to safeguard the Interests of the workers and other stakeholders in the tobacco industry. For these purposes, the government shall institute a balanced policy whereby the use, sale, and advertisements of tobacco products shall be regulated in order to promote a healthful environment and protect the citizens from the hazards of tobacco smoke, and at the same time ensure that the interest of tobacco farmers, growers, workers and stakeholders are not adversely compromised.”
Everybody’s happy. Until emphysema sets in. Remember, emphysema and lung cancer can be caused by exposure to tobacco smoke, not necessarily by smoking tobacco.
Now let’s see how the law protects us from this poison.
RA 9211 absolutely prohibits smoking in the following public places (Sec. 5):
- Centers of youth activity such as playschools, preparatory schools, elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities, youth hostels and recreational facilities for persons under 18 years;
- Elevators and stairwells;
- Locations in which fire hazards are present, including gas stations and storage areas for flammable liquids, gas, explosives or combustible materials;
- Within the buildings and premises of public and private hospitals, medical, dental, and optical clinics, health centers, nursing homes, dispensaries and laboratories;
- Public conveyances and public facilities including airport and ship terminals and train and bus stations, restaurants and conference halls, except for separate smoking areas; and
- Food preparation areas.
In all enclosed places that are open to the general public, private workplaces, and other places not covered by the above list, where smoking may expose a person other than the smoker to tobacco smoke, the owner, proprietor, possessor, manager or administrator of such places shall establish smoking areas. Such areas may include a designated smoking area within the building, which may be in an open space or separate area with proper ventilation, but shall not be located within the same room that has been designated as a non-smoking area. (Sec. 6)
For violations under these Sections 5 and 6 of RA 9211 (under Sec. 32 on Penalties):
- On the first offense, there’s a fine of not less than P500.00 but not more P1,000.00).
- On the second offense, the fine is between Php1,000.00 and P5,000.00.
- On the third offense, in addition to a fine between P5,000.00 and P10,000.00, the business permits and licenses to operate shall be cancelled or revoked.
No to Minors
If you don’t know yet, the law prohibits minors from smoking. Who knew? For the sake of being informed, under Sec. of RA 9211, it is unlawful:
- to sell or distribute tobacco products to any minor;
- to purchase cigarettes or tobacco products from a minor;
- for a minor to sell or buy cigarettes or any tobacco products; and
- for a minor to smoke cigarettes or any other tobacco products.
- to give samples of tobacco products to persons below 18 (Sec. 27).
And it is not a defense for the person selling or distributing that he/she did not know or was aware of the real age of the minor. Neither is it a defense that he/she did not know nor had any reason to believe that the cigarette or any other tobacco product was for the consumption of the minor to whom it was sold. If in doubt, the seller is tasked to verify the buyer’s age. (Sec. 12)
In fact, establishments offering, distributing or selling tobacco products to consumers, are required to post the following statement in a clear and conspicuous manner: "SALE/DISTRIBUTION TO OUR PURCHASE BY MINORS OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS IS UNLAWFUL" or " IT IS LAWFUL FOR TOBACCO PRODUCTS TO BE SOLD/DISTRIBUTED TO OR PURCHASED BY PERSONS UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE". (Sec. 11)
Even the sale or distribution of tobacco products is prohibited within 100 meters from any school, public playground or other facility frequented particularly by minors. (Sec. 10)
For violations of the above Sections 7,8,9, 10 and 11 (also under Sec. 32 on Penalties):
- On the first offense, any person or any business entity or establishment selling to, distributing or purchasing a cigarette or any other tobacco products for a minor shall be fined not less than P5,000.00 or imprisoned for not more than 30 days, upon the court’s discretion.
- For succeeding offenses, both penalties shall apply in addition to the revocation of business licenses or permits in the case of a business entity or establishment.
If a minor is caught selling, buying or smoking cigarettes or any other tobacco products, the provisions of Article 189 of Presidential Decree No. 603 (or The Child and Youth Welfare Code, as amended) shall apply (meaning, criminal liability and punishment will depend on the child’s age). If the violation is by a business entity, the owner, president, manager, or the most senior officers thereof shall be liable for the offense.
And in case you’re putting up a concert or some show and are soliciting sponsors remember (that under Sec. 25):
a) no tobacco sponsorship is allowed for:
1) an event or activity unless there is reasonable basis to believe that all persons who will take an active part in said event or activity, are at least 18 or older;
2) a team or individual unless all of them persons are at least 18 or older;
3) an event or activity reasonably believed to be of particular appeal to persons under 18.
b) tobacco brand sponsorship shall be prohibited except where there is a reasonable basis to believe that:
1) attendance at the event or activity will comprise at least 75% of whom are 18 or older;
2) the event or activity will not be of particular appeal to persons under 18;
3) the event or activity will not receive exposure, other than as a news item, on television or radio or the Internet, and such exposure complies with the provisions of RA 9211 governing tobacco marketing through said media; and
4) the principal activity associated with the sponsorship does not require above-average physical fitness for someone of the age group of those taking part.
c) All persons authorized to bear tobacco product advertisement, logos and brand names at sponsored events shall be at least 18.
d) All forms of advertising associated with or ancillary to sponsorship shall comply with the marketing provisions of RA 9211. (Sec. 25)
Cigarette and tobacco companies are prohibited from sponsoring any sport, concert, cultural art or event, as well as individual and team athletes, artists, or performers where such sponsorship shall require or involve the advertisement or promotion of any cigarette or tobacco company, tobacco product or tobacco use, name, logo or trademarks and other words, symbols, designs, colors or other depictions commonly associated with or likely to identify a tobacco product. And, get this, no manufacturer may register a tobacco brand name as a company name after the passage of RA 9211. (Sec. 26)
For violations of Sections 25 and 26:
- On the first offense, a fine of not more than P100,000.00) or imprisonment of not more than 1 year, or both, at the court’s discretion.
- On the second offense, a fine of P200,000.00) or imprisonment of not more than 2 years, or both, at the court’s discretion.
- On the third offense, in addition to a fine of not more than P400,000.00) or imprisonment of not more than 3 years, or both at the court’s discretion, the business permits and licenses, in the case of a business entity or establishment shall be revoked or cancelled.
Again, in the case of a business entity or establishment, the owner, president, manager or officials thereof shall be liable. If the guilty officer is an alien, he shall summarily be deported after serving his sentence and shall be forever barred from re-entering the Philippines.
It’s been more than 5 years since RA 9211 was enacted. Think we’re getting any closer to getting rid of the smokes and the smokers before cancer gets to them or us? Hope so.