Tobacco control and misplaced loyalties
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Taguig City Hall, Philippines
Publish date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A564
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Background and challenges to implementation:
Smoke-free policies have been on the rise since President Duterte won the in June 2016. After he issued Executive Order No.26 (EO26), or “Providing for the Establishment of Smoke-free Environments in Public and Enclosed Places” in May 2017, national government agencies(NGAs) and local government units(LGUs) have been rushing to adopt the EO. However, a closer look at EO26 shows that it is not fully FCTC-compliant. While the EO, and hence all policies born out of it, seem to acknowledge the role of the FCTC, these issuances reveal that the FCTC is recognized but not necessarily acknowledged. Therefore, despite renewed efforts at a supposedly “smoke-free” Philippines, the reality of things show that tobacco control may not be headed towards the right direction.

Intervention or response:
It must be impressed upon LGUs and NGAs that the Philippines ratified the FCTC in 2005. Thus, it has the force and effect of national law and should be complied with by GAs. The government, as a clear and legal obligation on all Parties found in Article 8, should protect the populace from tobacco smoke by adopting effective legislative, executive, administrative and other measures to reduce exposure.
The Constitution also grants LGUs local autonomy, so LGUs can adopt local laws applicable specifically within their jurisdiction.

Results and lessons learnt:
While the country is really taking its time at giving full recognition of the FCTC, tobacco control efforts are not futile. At the moment, at least 5 LGUs have FCTC-compliant ordinances. While the pace is slower than ideal, this shows effective tobacco control is possible.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
Government agencies which fully support the FCTC should ceaselessly work together to ensure that the little result that was produced continues to grow and cause a snowball effect throughout the country. NGAs and LGUs should not indiscriminately issue smoke-free policies, but should turn to the provisions of the FCTC.