The president of the Philippines has taken another step to eradicate substance use in his country.
Rodrigo Duterte ordered a strict new ban on smoking in public places Thursday that threatens jail time and fines for offenders and encourages citizens to report one another for using any kind of tobacco in public, including on street sidewalks.
Duterte has already launched a deadly war on drugs in his country since his election in 2016 that included civilians aiding in arrests, beatings, and killings of drug addicts. Human rights activists says 10,000 people have been killed, about 2,700 by police, another 1,800 by unknown assailants, and another nearly 6,000 under investigation, according to AFP.
Human Rights Watch has been calling on the United Nations to review Duterte’s brutal drug policies, saying the “sheer magnitude of the human rights calamity since President Duterte took office last year,” has been “nothing less than a murderous war on the poor.”
"Hitler massacred 3 million Jews. Now there are 3 million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I'd be happy to slaughter them," Duterte said last year.
Duterte instituted the ban on tobacco smoking this week through an executive order, which also bans electronic cigarettes, as well as anyone under 18 from using, selling, or buying tobacco products, according to the New York Times.
Duterte’s country is one of the most voracious consumers of tobacco in the world, the second-largest in Southeast Asia, and the ban will affect the more than 25% of Filipinos who smoke, according to the report. The World Health Organization recommended the country institute stricter anti-smoking laws and taxes to dissuade citizens from smoking.
“More will be saved from debilitating diseases and premature deaths, and this executive order supports other tobacco control initiatives, such as the graphic health warning law,” Emer Rojas, a cancer survivor and the president of the antismoking group New Vois Association of the Philippines, told the Times.
Duterte himself is a former smoker, though he quit that and drinking alcohol after being diagnosed with two diseases related to smoking and drinking, Barrett’s esophagus and Buerger’s disease.
And like Duterte’s approach to drugs, the smoking ban calls on civilians to arrest and charge their fellow citizens for infractions. Violators face four months in jail and about $100 in fines.