If you are a non-smoker, how many times have you walked down the busy streets of Manila minding your own business just to be greeted by a cloud of smoke coming from smokers having a cigarette break nearby? If you are a smoker, how many times have you broken the no smoking rule just to be able to get a few puffs of relief without thinking of innocent bystanders who might not want to pollute their lungs?
In May 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order No. 26 (Providing for the Establishment of Smoke-Free Environments in Public and Enclosed Places), imposing a nationwide ban on smoking in all public places in the country. According to Section 3, smoking in enclosed public places is strictly prohibited, except in Designated Smoking Areas or DSAs that fully comply with the necessary requirements.
In fact, all public places need to be smoke-free inside and within 10 meters from entrances and exits where people might pass by, and from air intake ducts. This includes public transportation, as well as any other outdoor spaces where people might gather (like parks, sidewalks, playgrounds, and resorts). Breaking the law could result in a fine up to Php10,000 by the Philippine National Police and other local task forces.
Sadly, we still encounter a lot of smokers who light up wherever they please due to the convenience of it and without any fear because, well, have you met anyone who has been fined for smoking in public yet? (If you have, would love to interview them about it!)
Whether this rule is strictly enforced or not, though, we really need to learn how to follow the rules and think about other people’s wellbeing aside from our own. If you are a smoker, please be more considerate of non-smokers and only smoke in designated areas for your smoking needs. In case you didn’t know yet, DSA operators do exist. In fact, the Veranda Designated Smoking Area has been around since 2014 to help solve the current smoking problem.
With hopes of eliminating littering and smoking in areas where non-smokers might be, these areas segregate those who smoke from those who do not want to pollute their longs. One such area is located in EcoTower BGC (32nd St. cor 9th Ave.), a commercial building that houses several top corporate tenants and several BPOs.
Another BGC Indoor DSA is located at Panorama Tower (34th St. cor Lane A). There is also one in Makati at the roof deck of Glorietta 4.
Timo Roxas Chua, along with Eco Tower Building, were the pioneers of this particular concept, having been around four years before the Executive Order was even put into place. Timo stresses that he does not promote smoking as a way of life. “I’ve chosen to pursue this service because I think that smokers should be given an ample and safe place to smoke to ensure that they are kept apart from non-smokers, who should not be exposed to second-hand smoke.” He shares that he actually came up with this idea after quitting the habit and didn’t want to be tempted by other people smoking around him.
These DSAs are also 100% compliant with all existing rules and regulations. That aside, you won’t have to smoke in secret and cause damage to the building you are in since cleaners are assigned to clean the area every 15 minutes. Whether you are a smoker or a non-smoker, let us all be considerate of each other. If you’re a smoker, please find a designated area away from non-smokers to pursue your habit. If you’re a non-smoker, please do your part and remind smokers around you to find a designated area to smoke in. Let’s help make our country a better place to live in by working together.