SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
Re-elected Rep. Alfredo Vargas III (5th District, Quezon City) has vowed to protect children from second-hand smoke in public places and enclosed areas by pushing for the amendment of the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 in the 17th Congress.
Vargas said the Constitution identifies children as one of the groups that must be prioritized in health development.
He cited the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Department of Health (DOH) 2009 study, which reported that children are more vulnerable to the dangers of second-hand smoke compared to adults because of their small built.
Another factor that makes children vulnerable is their ability to breathe faster than adults, which exposes them to a greater amount of tobacco smoke, Vargas said.
Vargas added that more studies have also associated children’s exposure to second-hand smoke to increased risk of lung cancer in adulthood.
Vargas intends to refile a bill, which he introduced in the 16th Congress in accordance with the policy of the State to protect and promote the right of the people to heath.
In House Bill 6485, Vargas proposed to amend Section 6 of Republic Act 9211 on Designated Smoking and Non-Smoking Areas by inserting the phrase: “Provided, that in all school-related activities, whether within or outside the school premises and whether held indoors or outdoors, smoking shall be absolutely prohibited.”
On the same section, Vargas also proposed to change the visible-sign “NO SMOKING AREA” or “NO SMOKING” to “SMOKING IS ABSOLUTELY PROHIBITED IN ENCLOSED AREAS UNDER RA. NO. 9211.”
Moreover, Vargas inserted a provision on the same section, stating that these smoking and non-smoking signages should be made part of the requirements for the issuance and/or renewal of the business permits and/or permits to operate of establishments, health facilities or schools and the failure to comply therewith is a ground for the denial or revocation of such permits, provided that for schools, these signages should be prominently displayed whenever youth activities are being conducted declaring that the area is a smoke-free zone.
The bill also seeks to amend Section 29 of RA. No. 9211 on Implementing Agency by changing the designation of the chair of the Inter-Agency Committee – Tobacco from the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to the Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) shall now be the Vice-chairperson instead of the Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH).