After declaring a war on drugs, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has now turned his wrath on smokers, passing a sweeping decree to ban public smoking and urging his citizens to help local authorities apprehend offenders.
His executive order, signed this week, and announced on Thursday, outlaws the use of tobacco and electronic cigarettes, in all public spaces, including pavements.
Designated smoking areas must not be within 10m of air ducts, entrances or exits, and are barred in schools, hospitals, clinics, food preparation areas and near fire hazards. The decree also prohibits anyone under 18 from “using, selling or buying cigarettes or tobacco products.”
Violators face a maximum four month prison sentence or a fine of $100.
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said Mr Duterte had signed Executive Order 26 in the run up to World No Tobacco Day on May 31.
It bears a strong resemblance to similar smoking restrictions imposed in Davao City, southern Philippines, where Mr Duterte was mayor for more than two decades.
His latest order cites disease control and the right to enjoy clean air as the reasons behind the nationwide measure. A former smoker himself, the president gave up smoking and alcohol after suffering health problems.
But in a country where over one quarter of the population smokes, including 11% of minors, the new rules will be difficult to enforce.
The country’s prison system already suffers from chronic overcrowding, with inmates forced to sleep crammed in stairwells or in open courtyards.
Calls on civilians to join a “smoke free task force” to help apprehend and charge violators have also stoked fears of vigilantism.
President Duterte’s intense antidrug campaign has already led to a breakdown in the rule of law over the past year.
According to Human Rights Watch, police and unidentified gunmen have killed over 7,000 suspected drug users and dealers since he took office in June 2016, not including children and other innocent victims the president has referred to as “collateral damage.”
Police claim responsibility for over 2,700 of these deaths, and attribute over 3,200 to vigilantes.