DoH chief backs metro-wide smoking ban

By Anna Valmero

MANILA CITY, METRO MANILA—Health Secretary Enrique Ona is is supporting the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in enforcing a metro-wide smoking ban despite a halt order by a local court.

The Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court (Branch 213) issued a temporary restraining order after a complaint filed by two employees caught smoking in front of Farmer’s Market in Cubao, ruling that the ban does not cover sidewalks and public thoroughfares.

MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino said the TRO is only a “temporary setback” and that it would not stop the agency from pursuing health-related advocacies pursuant to Republic Act  7924, which mandates MMDA  to promote public health, safety and sanitation, urban protection and pollution control.

As of August 22,  the MMDA apprehended 6,373 smokers, according to the agency's website (http://www.mmda.gov.ph/).

“In the pursuit of Kalusugan Pangkalahatan, the DoH stresses that the right of a smoker ceases when he or she violates the rights of others to protect their own health,” said Ona.

Second-hand smoke exposes non-smokers to more than 4,000 cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco, increasings risks of lung cancer and heart diseases. Studies also show that children exposed to second-hand smoke become prone to lung diseases such as asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia, apart from risks of stunted physical growth and intellectual development.

A study by  World Lung Foundation and International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease also found that half of the total population in Metro Manila is exposed to second-hand smoke daily.

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