MANILA, Philippines - Tobacco companies are seeking clarification from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on the smoking ban in public places in Metro Manila which started in earnest last July 1.
They insist that Republic Act 9211 (Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003) allows smoking on streets and other open or non-enclosed spaces.
The MMDA has started issuing tickets to violators of the smoking ban.
Chris Nelson, president of Philip Morris and Fortune Tobacco, told ANC's "Top Story" Wednesday that they want MMDA to clarify the implementation of the ban.
Nelson said the existing Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 (Republic Act 9211), "clearly specifies where you can smoke and not smoke under Section 5 of that."
He added that "smoking--in that national law--is allowed in open and non-enclosed spaces... Banning [smoking] in open areas is not prohibited."
Nelson said the tobacco companies have already "raised questions with the MMDA."
He also revealed that the congressman representing tobacco-growing areas has already met with MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino seeking clarification.
Nelson reiterated that RA 9211 has restrictions, "but smoking in open and non-enclosed spaces is allowed."
Smoking in public places
Section 5 of RA 9211 specifies that smoking is prohibited in the following places:
"1. Centers of youth activity such as playschools, preparatory schools, elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities, youth hostels, and recreational facilities for persons under 18 years old;
2. Elevator and stairwells;
3. Location in which fire hazards are present, including gas stations and storage areas for flammable liquids, gas, explosives or combustible materials;
4. Within the buildings and premises of public and private hospitals, medical, dental, and optical clinics, health centers, nursing homes, dispensaries and laboratories;
5. Public conveyance and public facilities including airport and ship terminals and train and bus stations, restaurant and conference halls, except for separate smoking areas; and
5. Food preparation areas."
Under Section 6 of RA 9211, on the other hand, smoking is allowed in smoking areas established by the owner, proprietor, possessor, manager, or administrator of enclosed places open to the general public, private offices, and other places not covered by Section 5.
It further said the designated smoking area "may be in an open space or separate area with proper ventilation, but shall not be located within the same room that has been designated as a non-smoking area." -- With report from ANC