The incoming (unless he dies of lung cancer in a few weeks) president Benigno ”Noynoy” Aquino III dreams of cleaning his government (meaning the entire country) of corruption. Yet he can’t even help in cleaning our lungs and the environment of his cigarette smoke. This despite laws against smoking and pollution and despite his being a lawmaker.
There is no excuse. There are enough enabling laws and implementing rules banning smoking in public places.
Philippine Clean Air Act Of 1999
Under Section 24 of Republic Act No. 8749 smoking is prohibited inside (a) a public building or (b) an enclosed public place including public vehicles and other means of transport or in (c) any enclosed area outside of one’s private residence, private place of work or any duly designated smoking area. This provision is implemented by local government units.
The Implementing Rules And Regulations of R.A. 8749 provide the punishment of 6 months and 1 day to 1 year imprisonment or a fine of P10,000.00 on any person who smokes inside a public building or an enclosed public place, including public utility vehicles or other means of public transport or in any enclosed area outside of his private residence, private place of work or any duly designated smoking area. (Rule LVI, Section 5)
Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 (which we’ve discussed in a previous post)
Regardless of the lack of any sign, smoking is absolutely prohibited in the following public places:
- 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 old;
- Elevator and stairwells;
- Location 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 conveyance and public facilities including airport and ship terminals and train and bus stations, restaurant and conference halls, except for separate smoking areas; and
- Food preparation areas. Under the Implementing Rules of RA 9211, food preparation areas include areas where food or beverage is actually being manufactured or prepared. (Section 5, Republic Act No. 9211)
In all enclosed places that are open to the general public, private workplaces, and other places not covered under Section 5, 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. (Section 6)
All designated smoking areas shall at least have 1 legible and visible sign posted, namely "SMOKING AREA" for the information and guidance of all concerned. In addition, the sign or not posted shall include a warning about the health effects of direct or secondhand exposure to tobacco smoke. Non-smoking areas shall likewise have at least 1 legible and visible sign, namely: "NO SMOKING AREA" or "NO SMOKING". (Section 6)
Under the Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic Act No. 9211, violations of Sections 5 and 6 are punished as follows:
(a) On the first offense, a fine of not less than P500.00 - P1,000.00 shall be imposed.
(b) On the second offense, a fine of not less than P1,000.00 - P5,000.00 shall be imposed.
(c) On the third offense, in addition to a fine of not less than P5,000.00 – P10,000.00, the business permits and licenses to operate shall be cancelled or revoked. (Title VI, Rule I, Section 2.3)
A president’s work areas would likely be mostly public areas so there’s not much room to escape unless the president opts to flaunt the law. Anyone wanting to lead the country should begin by following its laws first. And when it comes to smoking, he should definitely show where the butt stops.