THE Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has shot down the proposal to totally ban smoking in the Philippines as part of government efforts to prevent the further spread of COVID-19
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the proposal would adversely affect the tobacco industry, which employs 2.5 million workers and pays the government P145 billion yearly in excise taxes.
Note that Bello, a lawyer and a businessman, is a native of Isabela province, which is one of the country’s major producers of tobacco.
He said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) had earlier called for the imposition of the ban, drawing mixed reactions from various quarters.
Every year, studies show that cigarette smoking causes emphysema, lung cancer, asthma and other illnesses, claiming the lives of millions of people, including Filipinos, throughout the world.
Despite this, many Filipinos, including minors, still smoke even in public places, such as public utility vehicles.
On May 16, 2017, President Duterte issued Executive Order (EO) No. 26 “Providing for the Establishment of Smoke-Free Environments in Public Places and Enclosed Places” across the country.
Some quarters said the DOLE chief’s rejection of the ban raised the cue for those pushing to make the Philippines a smoke-free country to pick up the ball and continue the anti-smoking crusade.
In their view, it’s high time our farmers, who depend on the multi-billion-peso tobacco industry for their cash and livelihood, shift to other crops if they have the heart for the good health of Pinoys.
Sabi nga ng babala na nakalagay sa mga kaha ng sigarilyo: “Smoking is bad to your health.”