DAVAO CITY, Philippines—A cleaner air and a litter-free environment.
This was how EcoWaste Coalition, an advocacy group that promotes zero waste, described the effect of the Executive Order 26 signed by President Rodrigo Dutere, banning smoking in public places across the country.
“We laud President Duterte for signing the long-promised E.O. as this will protect the right of every Filipino to be protected against the hazards of second-hand and third-hand tobacco smoke,” said Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition.
The imposition of a nationwide smoking ban was one of the campaign promises of Duterte last May 2016 elections. The same smoking ban that has long been implemented in Davao City when he was the city’s chief local executive for over two decades. Lucero agreed with the President’s claim that “public health takes precedence over any commercial or business interest.”
EO No. 26 titled “Providing for the establishment of smoke-free environments in public and enclosed spaces,” sets specific guidelines on designated non-smoking and smoking areas while it prohibits smoking in enclosed public spaces and public conveyances, whether stationary or in motion, except in designated smoking areas.
However, while the President’s executive order provides for non-mandatory designated smoking areas with certain standards to follow, the group urged the public help in ensuring a smoke-free environment.
“As a group campaigning for a waste-free society, we trust that the enforcement of the E.O. will significantly reduce the number of cigarette butts thrown on the streets that ultimately find their way into the rivers and oceans,” Lucero pointed out.
“The E.O., we believe, will help in protecting our urban, rural and marine ecosystems from cigarette butts, which is more than just a litter,” she said.
“Although small and lightweight, cigarette butts take several years to degrade, contain many harmful chemicals, pose environmental health risks, and waste public funds for cleanup and disposal,” she further explained.
Apart from the smoking ban, EcoWaste Coalition also expressed hope that a similar EO will be signed banning firecrackers nationwide.
“The ban will surely not make everyone happy, but, just like in E.O. 26, the greater public interest dictates that a tougher policy is adopted to put an end to the preventable cycle of injuries, deaths, fires and toxic pollution due to firecrackers,” the group said.
“We urge the President to hasten the ban on firecrackers, too,” it said. (davaotoday.com)