Philippines president bans smoking in public, offenders face jail time
It’s common knowledge that smoking is not a healthy habit. And for divers, the activities of smoking and scuba diving definitely do not go together well. Despite this, there are many divers who continue to smoke. For such individuals, especially if a dive holiday in the Philippines is being planned, this article contains a timely warning.
The executive order of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, signed in late May 2017, forbids the use of tobacco, including electronic cigarettes, in all public spaces, even sidewalks. It also prohibits anyone under 18 from “using, selling or buying cigarettes or tobacco products.” This executive order has now been in force since the end of last week and represents one of the most severe anti-smoking laws worldwide.
The nationwide measure (Executive Order 26) is similar to the near-universal smoking ban the president had imposed in Davao City in 2002, when he was the city’s mayor. A former smoker, President Duterte quit smoking and drinking decades ago and is now known as an extreme opponent of smoking and alcohol.
Philippines authorities also urge civilians to create a smoke-free task force to assist in the implementation of the order, as well as to apprehend and charge violators.
The ban, which carries a maximum penalty of four months’ jail and a fine of 5,000 pesos ($100), covers both indoor and outdoor smoking, according to presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella last Friday.
Hence, do take heed if you are a smoker and intend to travel to the Philippines: Returning home with stories of having incurred a fine or even some jail time while on your dive holiday is simply not worth it.