Manila, Philippines – As Boracay reopens for tourism, civil society groups called on government to strictly enforce the smoking ban in its beautiful, world-renowned beaches.
Just last month, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat said that she has coordinated with both the Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu, and Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año in banning smoking on Boracay’s beachfronts and other public areas.
“Ang pinag-usapan namin ni Secretary Cimatu at Secretary Año,
Tobacco control advocate HealthJustice Philippines, Inc. lauded this pronouncement.
“The smoking ban is consistent with the directive of the President, who is a tobacco control advocate himself, to develop more stringent measures to promote a smoke-free environment,” Mary Ann Mendoza, president of HealthJustice Philippines, Inc. said.
Millenials Philippines (MPH), a youth advocacy group, noted that the smoking ban in public places especially at the White Beach will offer the best protection to the youths who will be visiting Boracay.
“We appreciate the government’s efforts to give us young people have a cleaner and smoke-free Boracay to hang out, relax and have fun.” says Marjon Fenis, Executive Vice President of MPH
In May 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order No. 26 ‘to minimize access, particularly of minors, to tobacco products…”
“DOT, DILG, and DENR should strictly implement this policy,” Mendoza said.
Cigarettes, an environmental hazard
Dr. Rene Ofreneo of Climate Change Congress of the Philippines said that “apart from being a public health burden, World Health Organization (WHO) studies reveal that cigarettes also have significant environmental costs. Over 10 billion cigarettes are being disposed of every day. Clean-ups of coastal and urban areas show that around 30 percent of items collected are cigarette butts, which take at least 10 years to rot and five centuries to a millennium to fully decompose.”
“By implementing the smoking ban, cigarette butts should not litter the beach anymore. DENR must ensure that the gains in the six-month closure of Boracay will not be reversed by the failure to strictly enforce the president’s no-smoking policy,” added Ofreneo.
Mendoza, for her part, cautioned Cimatu of any attempt of the tobacco industry to establish unnecessary partnerships with the government in beach clean-up efforts. In 2009, Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC) snagged a partnership with the DENR in launching a butt disposal campaign. “This Corporate Social Responsibility activity is the way of the tobacco industry to gain favorable public image to mask the fact that it is peddling a deadly product” Mendoza said.
In September 2018, DENR issued Memorandum Circular No. 2018-12, which prohibits its officials and employees from, among others, having unnecessary interactions with the tobacco industry. This is in compliance to the Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2010-01 between the Department of Health and the Civil Service Commission and Article 5.3 of the WHO-Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
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