Strict implementation of smoking ban, push

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Joint Task Force (JTF) COVID Shield Commander Police Lt. General Guillermo Eleazar has reminded all police commanders nationwide to strictly implement the smoking ban on terminals of Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs) and all public places.

Eleazar said the order is in line with the guideline of the National Task Force on COVID-19 chaired by Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana in coordination with Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief General Camilo Cascolan, to contain the spread of the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19).

In this time of pandemic when the coronavirus targets the respiratory system, smoking is really dangerous not only to the smokers but also to non-smokers. Smoking in public places particularly bus, jeepney and tricycle terminals compromises the health safety of both the drivers and the passengers,” Eleazar stressed.

Health experts said that smokers and those who would inhale the secondhand smoke coming from cigarettes are susceptible to coronavirus infection as their immune system is already compromised.

The act of smoking itself, according to Eleazar, already compromises the health safety of an individual since contaminated hands or contaminated cigarettes increase the possibility of transmission from fingers to lips, as well as the fact that smokers have to remove face masks and face shields when smoking.

The JTF COVID Shield has been receiving complaints that there are some drivers and passengers who are smoking in PUV terminals, especially in the provinces.

Eleazar said police commanders were also tasked to account and regularly monitor the existence of smoking areas in their respective Areas of Responsibility (AORs).

Earlier, the Manila International Airport Authority has temporarily closed all the smoking areas in all terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) due to the threat of coronavirus infection among smokers.

“There is already an existing Presidential Decree 26 signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte against smoking in public places. All our police commanders need to do is to ensure that it is strictly implemented in their respective AORs,” Eleazar said.

Police commanders should coordinate with the Local Government Units (LGUs) for the utilization of barangay tanods and the city and municipal Public Order and Safety personnel for the enforcement of the nationwide smoking ban.

Eleazar said the reminder for police commanders to strictly implement the smoking ban is also in line with the directive of the Chief PNP for the deployment of police marshals in transportation hubs to ensure that the quarantine protocols are properly and strictly implemented.

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