When in Manila, be very careful where you smoke. In particular, steer clear of schools and youth centres, or any place where children converge. Otherwise, the full force of the law will be upon you.

Like every other local government unit in the country, the City of Manila is implementing the expanded no smoking ban order signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

But local officials, led by Mayor Joseph Estrada, vowed to mete the severest sanctions allowed by law for those found smoking in these particular areas where young citizens most hang out.

The Mayor ordered the Office of the City Administrator to come up with guidelines for schools, and establishments in their immediate vicinity, to remain free of smoking activities.

Executive Order 26 prohibits establishments or entities near schools or areas frequented by the youth such as playgrounds, parks, youth hostels and recreational centres from selling tobacco products.

Further, there will be no Designated Smoking Areas (DSAs) allowed in educational institutions such as preschools, preparatory schools, elementary and high schools, colleges and universities.

“Even before the nationwide smoking [ban], we’ve been strict when it comes to smoking in public places such as schools. But with the President’s EO 26, we will be stricter especially in schools zones,”Mayor Estrada was quoted as saying by the Daily Tribune.

“We will not be lenient. Violators will face the severest sanctions mandated by the law,” he declared.

The EO cited violators could face fines in accordance with Republic Act No. 9211, or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, which include a fine ranging from Php 500 to PhP10,000 for violators. Meanwhile, those who involve minors in prohibited activities may also be fined Php 5,000, imprisonment up to 30 days, or have their business license revoked.

For its part, the Division of City Schools-Manila superintendent Dr Wilfredo Cabral said, “We’ve come up with issuances in support of this anti-smoking regulation. What we have been doing is coordinate with concerned city hall agencies such as the health office and licensing, since we do not have jurisdiction over business establishments selling tobacco products.”

Dr Cabral has exhorted the public to cooperate with government’s efforts to reduce smoking practices.

“Schools are smoke-free zones so they really cannot smoke or sell cigarettes within the school premises,” he underscored. MIMS

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