DOH targets release of smoking ban rules before SONA

MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said the health department hopes to come out with the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Executive Order 26 or the national smoking ban before it takes effect on July 16, or even before President Rodrigo Duterte's 2nd State of the Nation Address.

"The effectivity of the law is 60 days after its signing. We hope that if we come up with an IRR, we can include the specifics, and the implementation will be clear, but even without the IRR, it is already implementable," Ubial told reporters on Tuesday, May 30, after a press conference for World No Tobacco Day.

EO 26, which provides for the establishment of smoke-free environments in public and enclosed spaces, was patterned after the Davao City ordinance "when it was in the early years of implementation."

Even in the absence of an IRR, Ubial said local government units (LGUs) are already "encouraged" to pass their own local ordinances that will implement not just the EO, but even the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), an international treaty to which the Philippines is a signatory.

The health secretary said the EO covers LGUs that have not passed local ordinances on tobacco control. 

As for LGUs with ordinances that are "stricter than the executive order," Ubial said they can continue implementing those existing ordinances. (READ: Coming soon: National hotline for smokers who want to quit)

"The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is an international treaty that we signed. That can be the reference point of local ordinances, which the Philippines ratified, so that is the legal basis of other local governments to actually implement a stricter ordinance," she explained in a mix of English and Filipino.

The health department is working with the following in crafting the IRR of EO 26:

Ubial said there is no representative from the tobacco industry because "we don't think that their representation in fact will add value to the executive order." –

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.