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Public health advocates calls on strict implementation of CSC memorandum circular no.17 and smoke-free ordinances

13 Aug 2020

Public health advocates today call on the strict implementation of the smoking ban in government premises and smoke-free ordinances, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent initiative to prohibit smoking in workplaces to contain the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country.


“We fully support the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to limit, if not shut down smoking areas in the workplace. Workers or employees congregating in designated smoking and vaping areas make it prone to become a COVID hotspot, increasing the chance of the virus transmission,” said Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance, Philippines (FCAP) President Roberto Del Rosario.


He added, “We call the heads of agencies both at the national and local government, government-owned and controlled corporations and universities, including building administrators of government offices to take more action and implement the Civil Service Commission’s Memorandum Circular No.17, which we felt overlooked over the past years. Even though this policy only covers government offices, we also encourage private offices to support smoke-free workplaces as well.”   


The Civil Service Commission’s Memorandum Circular No. 17 series of 2009 provides for a 100% Smoke-Free Policy and a Smoking Prohibition in all areas of government premises, buildings and grounds to ensure a healthy and productive workforce.


Del Rosario also said the ballooning number of COVID-19 cases has already been alarming for doctors and that one of the ways to help decrease this number is to encourage smokers to quit and for non-smokers, especially the youth, to not initiate smoking.


Meanwhile, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Philippines Executive Director and Pulmonologist Dr. Maricar Limpin said that smoking compromises lung health, which weakens the immune system and makes smokers and vapers alike more susceptible to a severe case of COVID-19.


“Tobacco and vape products damage the lungs. Smoking cigarettes also weakens the immune system making smokers more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 and having a more severe form of the illness, we hope through the government's interim workplace guidelines we can curb tobacco and e-cigarette use,” added Limpin.


On Tuesday, the Philippine government released a new health protocol for offices in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19. According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the new guidelines include wearing of face masks and face shields at all times inside the company shuttle, as well as prohibiting dining in office canteens and the closure of common smoking areas to prevent workers from congregating and thereby enforce physical distancing.

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