Don’t Panic! From Curfew to Smoking Ban: Duterte’s Proposed Measures Are Already Law In Many Countries

Rodrigo Duterte doesn’t look like a man who likes to waste time. His landslide victory in the race for President of the Philippines has hardly slipped off the frontpage and he is already announcing a range of measures to be introduced nationwide under his presidency. The prospect of curfews and smoking bans seems to have shocked some citizens, but his proposed measures are nothing new, as this look at some other countries shows.


Davao City has long been hailed as an example to the rest of the country when it comes to public order and cleanliness. With the city’s mayor now in charge of the whole country, the camp of Rodrigo Duterte has already announced that the man himself is contemplating rolling out some of his famous policies nationwide. Here’s a look how the proposed ordinances measure up internationally:

Smoking Ban:

Davao City’s Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance is quite strict and prohibits smoking of any tobacco product (including e-cigarettes, shishas and the like) in all accommodation and entertainment establishments, workplaces, enclosed public places, partially enclosed public places, public buildings, public outdoor spaces and all public conveyances, government-owned vehicles and other means of public transport within the territorial jurisdiction of Davao City. Addicts are only allowed to get their nicotine fix in designated areas, with hefty fines awaiting any offenders. So how does this compare to the rest of the world?

Smokers in Singapore are subject to similarly drastic restrictions on where they can light up their cancer sticks, with big fines and strict enforcement in place. The squeaky clean city state is even going one step further, with many of its citizens supporting a movement called “Towards Tobacco-Free Singapore”. This campaign aims to outlaw the sale of tobacco products to anyone born after the year 2000, essentially phasing out smoking in the Fine City completely.

In Europe, many countries have also introduced strict smoking bans. You can’t smoke in bars or restaurants in the UK anymore, for example, and the “Federal Non-Smoking Act” in Germany has introduced a smoking ban in all government buildings, public transport, and passenger stations of public railways. In addition, many German states have enacted their own, much stricter bans on top of the federal regulations.

Maybe now is the perfect time to kick the habit? We previously listed five good reasons to quit smoking here.

Liquor Ban:

The liquor ban in Davao City, which prohibits establishments from selling alcohol after 1 a.m., is only in effect in public places. This does seem quite strict but is again by no means unique. You won’t get your glass refilled after 1am in a number of places, such as Delhi in India or various states in the USA, where bar tenders in Maine, Nebraska or North Dakota may ask for your Last Orders at 1am thanks to local alcohol laws. In the UK, the drinking laws were famously strict for many years, with pubs having been required to close by 11pm in the past. Even following the relaxation of regulations (24 hour licenses are now available for most bars in Britain), people don’t seem to drink all through the night and many establishment close quite early, especially on weekdays. On top of that, drinking alcohol in public places, for example while sitting at the side of the road or in a public park, is also not allowed in certain areas under so called Public Space Protection Orders.

Of course, as with most things there are some exceptions. Even in Davao City, high end hotels can serve you your favorite tipple at any time of the day, so if you’re desperate to get drunk in public in the middle of the night, you will still be able to do so. If you really should do that is of course another question.


Rodrigo Duterte is apparently planning to extend the curfew for unattended minors from his home turf in Davao City to the whole country. Before you now jump on WhatsApp to rally all your teenage friends for a march on Malacañang, keep in mind that this is not as unusual or harsh as it may sound. According to a spokesperson, the proposed curfew is principally for unescorted minors roaming the streets past 10 p.m. It does not include minors with their parents or guardians. This is exactly the same law you will find in some cities in Switzerland. The Swiss town of Interlaken, for example, enacted such an ordinance in 2013, and some neighboring countries have similar rules.

If you happen to grow up in Germany, then the Jugendschutzgesetz (Youth Protection Law) regulates what you can and cannot do in public while being a minor. Planning to see a movie at the local cinema? If you’re under 14 years of age, your film of choice must have finished by 8pm, between the ages of 14 and 16 you have to be out the exit by 10pm, and cinema aficionados between the ages of 16 and 18 have to finish any movie marathon by midnight. Similar rules apply for minors visiting other public places, such as restaurants and bars. While not exactly popular with the younger population, these measures are primarily in place to protect young people and are widely accepted, even if enforcement is often not overly strict.

Banning of loud Karaoke:

Excessive noise is a pollutant and will harm your health just like any other type of pollution. Noise pollution can cause hypertension, high stress levels, tinnitus, hearing loss, sleep disturbances, and a whole range of other harmful effects. It makes sense then to regulate the levels of noise people are exposed to, even if it means interfering with the nation’s favorite pastime of singing.

Taking Germany as example again, the general guideline there is that any excessive noise, such as from a raging party at your house or the popular Karaoke bar next door, must stop by 10pm and “Nachtruhe” (night time silence) must be maintained until around 6 or 7am, depending on where you live. You can still continue to sing, but it should only be done at room levels, and if the noise levels are such that they have “considerable impact” on the life of your neighbours (for example, they can’t sleep because you’re bellowing out My Way at the top off your lungs, which then leads to even more noise when the inevitable My Way Karaoke Fight breaks out) then you will quickly have the police knocking on your door, who will tell you to turn it down. If you still refuse (because you have to show everyone that your version of My Way is really and absolutely the best, for example) then the police might return and confiscate your equipment. If you’re a business, you may also end up in legal trouble.

As shown above, the proposed measures are already in place in other countries and can generally be considered as having a positive impact on the quality of life of citizens. With these steps, Duterte is making the Philippines a little bit more like Germany or Switzerland, and that’s certainly not a bad thing.