Quezon City. As millions of students troop back to schools, two non-government organizations (NGOs) sought the assistance of local government units (LGUs) nationwide in enforcing the oft-disregarded ban on the sale of tobacco products near schools and related places.
In a joint press release, the Action on Smoking & Health (ASH-Philippines), a health NGO, and the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental NGO, appealed to the local authorities to strictly enforce the said ban under Republic Act No. 9211, or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003.
RA 9211 explicitly prohibits the sale of tobacco products within 100 meters from any point of the perimeter of a school, public playground or other facility frequented by minors or persons below 18 years of age. Violators face a fine of not less than P5,000 or an imprisonment of not more than 30 days upon the discretion of the court.
“We call upon our local government officials, especially our city and municipal mayors and our Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan chairs, to ensure the vigorous implementation of our country’s tobacco control measures to protect the health of the Filipinos from the harms of cigarette smoking and vaping”,” said Dr. Maricar Limpin, President, ASH-Philippines. “LGUs’ enforcement of the ban on the sale of cigarettes, as well as vapes, near schools, playgrounds and other centers of youth activity will send a clear message to the youth and the general public about the hazards of smoking and vaping, and our nation’s firm resolve to protect our children and youth from tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke.”
“We are one with ASH-Philippines in appealing to our LGUs to muster the political will to stop the prevalent sale of cigarettes near schools and other places frequented by our children and youth,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “Our children and people deserve smoke-free and butt-free surroundings in line with the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.”
Child and adolescent smoking, according to ASH, causes serious risks to respiratory health both in the short and long term with children who smoke two to six times more susceptible to coughs and increased phlegm, wheezing and shortness of breath than those who do not smoke.
Smoking impairs lung growth and initiates premature lung function decline which may lead to an increased risk of chronic obstructive lung disease later in life, said ASH, warning the earlier children become regular smokers and persist in the habit as adults, the greater the risk of developing lung cancer or heart disease.
Children are also more susceptible to the effects of passive smoking, ASH reminded.
Both ASH-Philippines and the EcoWaste Coalition further sought the help of LGUs in implementing the Department of Health (DOH)-issued regulation controlling the distribution and sale of electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery system (ENDS/ENNDS), commonly referred to as e-cigarettes or vapes.
Under the DOH Administrative Order No. 2019-0007, “the distribution, sale and offering for sale and use of ENDS/ENNDS shall be strictly prohibited in places where sale and use of cigarettes are prohibited,” and that “the use of ENDS/ENNDS shall be banned in places where smoking is prohibited.”