Smoking Ban In Church Vicinity

MANILA, Philippines - Catholic prelates want to ban smoking even outside the church premises.

The prelates led by Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, member of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines Permanent Council, are in favor of banning smoking even outside church premises for health and environmental reasons.

''I am absolutely in favor to ban smoking even at the church premises, plaza, compound or patio. Smoking inside is already banned. God loves only the incense smoke, not cigarette smoke,'' he said in an interview.

Church leaders were asked of the possibility of also banning smoking outside the church premises in view of the report that the ban on smoking and littering will be strictly implemented at the Rizal Park, also known as Luneta, in Manila starting May 31.

Bastes, meantime, cited two reasons why he is for the ban.

''Secondary smoking causes cancer to non-smokers,'' he said.

''It's also for hygiene and cleanliness. Smokers litter church premises with cigarette butts, an annoying sight to behold,'' added Bastes.

Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros also echoed what Bastes said.

''Smoking is not good for the health. It is good policy to ask people not to smoke within church premises. Smokers do not only harm their health but others as well. It is also harmful to the ecology with the cigarette butts being thrown anywhere,'' he said.

Just like his fellow prelates, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco is also in favor of banning smoking both inside and outside the church.

''I would highly recommend or favor the banning of smoking in and outside church premises for a friendly and healthy atmosphere or surrounding,'' he said.

Although in favor of the ban, Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez said such decision would depend on the bishop in-charge of the diocese.

''We entrust that to the one in-charge of premises or the bishop,'' he said.