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Designate more smoking areas, shop owners told

Pro-Yosi, a smokers’ rights advocacy group, called on owners of private establishments like malls, restaurants and bars to designate more indoor smoking areas while stressing that under the law smoking in open spaces outdoor is permitted.
“The Duterte administration did a great job respecting the rights of non-smokers and smokers. We’ve spoken with several establishment owners and they are wary with the incorrect interpretation and implementation by some local government units,” Pro-Yosi president Anton Israel said.
Duterte issued last year Executive Order 26 giving flesh to the provisions of the 2003 Tobacco Regulation Act in regulating indoor public smoking.
“Section 6 of RA 9211 mandates establishment owners to provide smoking and non-smoking areas in enclosed places, therefore, owners who do not comply in this provision may be penalized under the law,” Israel said.
Israel bewailed anti-tobacco groups for intentionally misleading the public by encouraging private establishments not to set-up designated smoking areas (DSAs).
“As it is, bars and restaurants have taken a big hit in terms of income while malls have suffered significant decrease in the number of mall goers,” he added.
Under the EO, Israel said smoking is not banned in open areas like streets and sidewalks. If there are no DSAs outside buildings and other private establishments, he said smoking is allowed.
Pro-Yosi also issued an appeal to LGUs for a fair and consistent enforcement of EO 26 following reports that the Muntinlupa city government recently arrested 61 individuals most of them smoking in open areas.
“What they have done is completely without any legal basis. There is no basis under EO 26 nor the TRA,” Israel said.
Israel said his groups would extend support to those illegally apprehended as well as help the smoker who was accosted last week in Mandaluyong and was treated like a common criminal.
The video of that smoker, handcuffed and dragged by a number of enforcers, went viral and gained widespread condemnation from the more than 8 million viewers.
“We only appeal to authorities to treat smokers humanely and with dignity. While we respect the rights of non-smokers, smokers’ rights should also be respected. Smoking is a choice we adults have decided to make so please respect our choice,” Israel.
“We know President Duterte only wants to protect non-smokers but it is not his intention to embarrass and humiliate the 15 million Filipino smokers,” Israel added.

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