Threat of second-hand smoke remains high due to inaction of LGUs

The Framework Convention Alliance on Tobacco Control – Philippines (FCAP) on Sunday said the inaction and passiveness of many local government units (LGUs) in the country is the main reason why the threat of second-hand smoke (SHS) remains high.

FCAP executive director Dr. Maricar Limpin said many LGU officials have continuously disregarded the provisions of Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, which bans smoking in several public places.

“The main reason why the threat of second-hand smoke continues to be prevalent is because many local government units opt not to implement the ban on smoking in public places,” Limpin said.

Based on the 2015 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) – Philippines, SHS exposure is highly prevalent in public places, particularly in bars and nightclubs at 86 percent.

Second-hand smoke exposure was also found to be prevalent in public transportation at 38 percent; followed by restaurants at 22 percent.

Other public places also affected by second-hand smoke are in government buildings at 13 percent; schools at 11 percent; and healthcare facilities at 4 percent.

SHS exposure was also found to be high in workplaces at 21.5 percent; while exposure to it at home is at 35 percent, according to the 2015 GATS.

Under the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, smoking is absolutely prohibited in public places such as schools, recreational places, shopping malls, movie houses, hotels, public and private hospitals, health centers; and public conveyances and public facilities, such as airport and ship terminals and train and bus stations, restaurants, and conference halls.

Limpin, however, pointed that SHS exposure is already on a decline as seen when the 2015 GATS – Philippines data in comparison to the 2009 results.

“There is a significant improvement in the SHS exposure rate because it went down. However, it remains to be high in some places,” said Limpin.

Based on the 2009 GATS – Philippines, SHS exposure is at 55 percent in public transportation; 33 percent in restaurants; 25 percent in government buildings; and 7.6 percent in healthcare facilities.

In 2009, workplaces provide SHS exposure to 32.6 percent; while homes have a 54 percent SHS exposure rate.

Meanwhile, Limpin said that the newly-signed Executive Order No. 26, which bans smoking in all public and enclosed places, can be a big help in pressing LGUs to do their part in prohibiting smoking in all public places.

“This EO comes at an opportune time as it orders all LGUs to really protect the public’s health against the ill-effects of second-hand smoke because the President is really serious about this,” the FCAP Official said.

Last May 16, President Duterte signed EO 26, which fulfills his campaign promise of providing a smoke-free environment in the entire country. (LSJ/PNA)