Philippine capital to enforce smoking ban

Noel Celis
Authorities in the Philippine capital Manila have announced a drive to strictly enforce a smoking ban in public places across the sprawling metropolis

Authorities in the Philippine capital Manila on Sunday announced a drive to strictly enforce a smoking ban in public places across the sprawling metropolis.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority said that from Monday it would deploy policemen and specially trained enforcers across the city of 12 million people to round up violators.

The Philippines has a law banning smoking in public places dating from 2003, but it has largely been ignored in a country where according to surveys 28 percent of Filipinos aged 15 years and over, or 17.3 million people, are smokers.

"We must be very strict in implementing our anti-smoking regulation," agency chairman Francis Tolentino said in a statement.

"We should transform Metro Manila into a smoke-free community."

Those caught are to be fined 500 pesos ($11), which is more than the daily minimum wage in the impoverished country, and those who cannot pay the fine will be made to do community service.

Health advocates have also repeatedly called on the chain-smoking President Benigno Aquino to lead the campaign and quit.

Maricar Limpin, executive director of the anti-smoking lobby Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines, lauded the intensified campaign.

Limpin said the government should go beyond its campaign and prod congress to pass legislation to raise taxes on tobacco.