Newly appointed Health Secretary Francisco Duque III conceded that successfully implementing the smoking ban is not as simple as getting the President to sign Executive Order No 26, which expands the smoking ban to cover more public and enclosed spaces.

"It is easy to have an EO but the the success of its implementation is another story," the Health chief was quoted as saying.

He further added that local government units are instrumental in the success of enforcing the law, since they are tasked to create local policies that will control tobacco use in their respective areas.

But LGUs are admittedly facing challenges, Secretary Duque said. To help implement the law, the DOH will seek a dialogue with cities known to be successful in implementing their anti-smoking policies. These include Davao and Makati, who have attained success with their respective smoking ban implementation, he added.

"We will talk to experts of this program," the Health chief said.

Makati City and Davao City have both received the Red Orchid Award, given by the DOH to honor LGUs that are able to make significant changes in terms of local anti-smoking policies. It is an initiative for municipalities, cities and other local government units. 

Policies include creating a local task force to enforce the smoking ban, as well as strategies to monitor compliance. The EO stipulates that anyone can volunteer to be part of the task force.

"We want to know what the real implementation challenges are," the Secretary said.

The executive order covers schools, elevators, recreational facilities, stairwells, areas with fire hazards, hospitals, and food preparation areas.

Former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial previously said they are projecting that in the next five years smoking prevalence in the Philippines will be reduced by another 9 percent as a result of the smoking ban.

According to the Philippine Statistics Office, there are about 17.3 million smokers in the country, while the DOH estimates there will be another 1.5 million Filipinos who will stop smoking due to the smoking ban implementation. MIMS

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