MANILA - Executive Order 26 or the nationwide ban on public smoking is now in effect, the Department of Health (DOH) announced Sunday.
"Kaninang past midnight, nag-umpisa na. Ang magmo-monitor po ay iyung mga local government," DOH Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag told radio DZMM.
Malacañang, for its part, urged the public to support the ban.
"The implementation of this EO is a realization of our dream of a tobacco-free future. Together, let us give our full cooperation and support to the smoke-free establishments in public and enclosed places," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed in May the order banning smoking in public places, fulfilling his campaign vow to make nationwide the prohibition he implemented in Davao City, where he was mayor for over 2 decades.
Under EO 26, smoking is forbidden in public and private transportation utilities, as well as establishments such as schools, hospitals, clinics, food preparation areas, and locations in which fire hazards are present.
The order allows smoking only in designated smoking areas (DSA), which may either be an open space or a separate area with proper ventilation, and where warnings on the ill effects of smoking should be posted.
These areas shall also have a non-smoking buffer zone. The order states that the combined area for a DSA and its buffer zone should not be larger than 20 percent of the total floor area of the building or conveyance.
Violators of the EO face fines ranging from 500 pesos to 10,000 pesos and possible imprisonment. They may be reported by the public to DOH hotline (02) 711-1002, Tayag said.
The police meanwhile is considering apprehending violators during their round-up of individuals who disobey city ordinances.
"Isasama na po natin siguro iyan sa pagpapatupad ng bawal na umiinom din sa kalsada. Start na rin po tayo ngayong araw dahil iyan ay nasa batas na at ipapatupad na rin natin iyan," National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Oscar Albayalde told DZMM.
EO 26 does not cover vapes and e-cigarettes.