MANILA, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order that bans smoking in all public places in the Philippines, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said on Thursday.
Ubial said Duterte signed the executive order on Tuesday, which sets strict guidelines on designated areas where smoking is prohibited or may be allowed, with breaches attracting a maximum penalty of four months in jail and a fine up to 5,000 pesos (100 U.S. dollars).
The executive order specifically bans smoking in all public places including schools, workplaces, government facilities, establishment that provides food and drinks, accommodations and professional services, among others.
The executive order also states that buildings are not allowed to have more than one designated smoking areas (DSAs) and that minors should not be allowed in the DSAs. The executive order also reaffirms the ban on the sale of tobacco to those below 18 years old.
The ban becomes effective 60 days after publication from a newspaper of general circulation.
In signing the executive order, Duterte said the move is in pursuit of the government policy to guarantee the enjoyment of the right of every person to breathe clean air as stated under the Philippine Clear Air Act of 1999.
Ubial said a number of tobacco control interventions, particularly tobaccos taxation, have led to a significant drop in current smokers from 17 million in 2009 to 15.9 million in 2015.
In October last year, Duterte said the nationwide executive order is patterned after the smoking ban that he imposed when he was mayor of Davao City, his home city in the southern Philippines.
"If you want to smoke, find a place where it is allowed. Now, I've always been against even building a structure inside just to accommodate smokers. That ain't the way," Duterte said at the time, saying that smoking can lead to diseases like cancer.
"The stats will show, there is no debate on that. They will die of cancer if they continue to mess up with nicotine," Duterte said.