True to its commitment in promoting smoke-free environment, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) vowed to intensify the promotion of smoke-free environment policy and public awareness on the effects of tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke.
Aside from promotion and public awareness, the MMDA also provides technical assistance to the 17 local government units (LGUs) in the development of policies, capacity building, communication strategies, and monitoring of compliance.
The MMDA noted that the US Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) stated that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and that even brief exposure can cause immediate harm.
It added that non-smoking adults who are exposed to second-hand smoke at home or at work have a 25 percent to 30 percent increased risk of developing lung cancer.
In December 2022, the results of the 2021 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) showed that the exposure to secondhand smoke in homes and public places has “significantly declined,” with the largest decrease in exposure to secondhand smoke occurring in public transportation—
According to the survey the exposure to secondhand smoke in homes also declined from 54.4 percent in 2009 to 34.7 percent in 2015 to 21.4 percent in 2021.
Meanwhile, in the workplace, it also decreased from 22.6 percent in 2009 and 21.5 percent in 2015 to 12.9 percent in 2021.
MMDA’s activity on tobacco control to continue
Despite the decrease in number on the exposure to the secondhand, the MMDA said they will continue with their activity on tobacco control:
•Assists in the promotion of smoke-free environment policy and public awareness on the effects of tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke. MMDA also provides technical assistance to the 17 local government units (LGUs) in the development of policies, capacity building, communication strategies and monitoring of compliance.
• Access Restriction to minors on the sales of cigarette within 100 meters of school vicinity.
• Advocacy on public transport terminals by giving short orientation on the danger of smoking to health to Public Utility drivers and operators.
• Implementation of 100 percent smoke-free workplace policy in compliance to Civil Service Commission Memoranum Circular No. 17 series of 2009.
Advocates move for the passage of smoke-free law
Tobacco control advocates, meanwhile, are also pushing for the passage of the smoke-free law.
“Now is an opportune time to pass House Bill 5315. Smoke-Free laws have been shown to reduce smoking initiation and exposure to secondhand smoke. We call on our leaders to pass this legislation and protect the policy-making process from any interference from the tobacco industry,” said Dr. Ma. Victoria Raquiza, co-convenor of Social Watch Philippines.
HB 5315, also known as the Smoke-Free Environment Bill, authored by Kalinga Partylist Irene Gay Saulog aims to institutionalize the smoking ban in public places as defined by Executive Order 26. This will ensure that a singular definition of areas where an absolute ban on smoking shall be observed across the country.
The bill also prohibits indoor designated smoking areas (DSAs). This shall be in compliance with the country’s commitment to the World Health Organization – Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) to promote the right to health of workers and people in enclosed spaces.
According to a Pulse Asia Survey in December 2020, 93% of Filipino adults support a policy that will ban smoking in all public places.