Duterte to ban public smoking; giant rehab center to open soon

A Filipino uses an electronic cigarette outside a mall in Manila, Philippines on Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 12 October 2016
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Duterte to ban public smoking; giant rehab center to open soon

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will this month ban smoking in public, the health department said Wednesday, further strengthening some of the toughest tobacco regulation in Asia.
The firebrand leader has waged a ruthless law and order campaign since July that has left more than 3,000 people dead while, as a long-time mayor of the southern city of Davao, he imposed curfews on minors and banned public alcohol sales at night and shirtless men.
The upcoming law is in addition to legislation banning tobacco advertising and regulating smoking in indoor public places, as well as a statute that requires graphic images of smoking health hazards to be printed on cigarette packaging.
“There has been a significant reduction in smoking, but the reduction has been slow,” Assistant Health Secretary Eric Tayag told AFP.
“We want to have in place all the tools that are needed to expand this campaign,” he added.
Tayag said the new drive was prompted by Duterte who, in 2002, banned smoking in all public places in Davao.
The World Health Organization said 20.6 percent of the Philippine population smoked as of 2013, 10 years after the tobacco regulation act was passed.
The country of 101 million also remained one of 15 nations worldwide with a heavy burden of tobacco-related ill health, the WHO said. The existing law bans smoking in indoor public places including government buildings, hospitals and schools as well as public transport.
Bars and nightclubs are required to set aside designated smoking areas, but smoking outdoors is not regulated.
Tayag said the planned executive order would plug that gap by only allowing smoking outdoors at the back of buildings “where there are no people.”
It will authorize municipal and city governments to impose penalties that could include prison terms, fines, community service or a combination of the three, he added.
Separately, the Philippines on Wednesday announced plans to open in November what it called a “mega” drug rehabilitation facility, funded by a Chinese tycoon, to treat up to 10,000 patients in Duterte’s war on drugs.
The news comes six days ahead of a visit to Beijing by Duterte, accompanied by hundreds of businessmen, as he seeks to forge closer ties with the Asian giant and daily airs his dissatisfaction with traditional ally the United States.
Several thousand people, mostly small-time drug users and dealers, have died at the hands of police and suspected vigilantes since Duterte took office on June 30, promising to eradicate the drug menace.
The center, located in a military camp north of the capital, Manila, was paid for by Chinese philanthropist and real estate developer Huang Rulun, whose net worth Forbes magazine has estimated at $3.9 billion.
Separately, the government has formally invited a UN rights rapporteur to investigate the thousands of killings during Duterte’s war on crime, a presidential spokesman said Wednesday.


Animation film fest rescinds Kobe Bryant invite after outcry

Updated 12 min 13 sec ago
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Animation film fest rescinds Kobe Bryant invite after outcry

  • In 2003, Bryant was charged with raping a 19-year-old hotel employee
  • An online petition had been circulating demanding Bryant be dropped

LOS ANGELES: Kobe Bryant was dropped Wednesday from the jury of an animated film festival after calls for the former NBA star’s ouster over a 2003 rape allegation.
Eric Beckman the CEO of GKIDS, the company that organizes the Animation Is Film Festival, announced the move.
“After discussions with the various stakeholders of Animation Is Film, the decision has been made to remove Kobe Bryant from the 2018 jury, Beckman said in a statement. “We are a young organization and it is important to keep our collective energies focused on the films, the participating filmmakers, and our festival attendees.”
An online petition had been circulating demanding Bryant be dropped.
Bryant won an Academy Award in March for his part in making the animated short, “Dear Basketball” and has founded an animation company, Granity Studios.
He released a statement saying he was honored to be invited and disappointed to be excluded.
“This decision further motivates me and my commitment to building a studio that focuses on diversity and inclusion in storytelling for the animation industry,” Bryant’s statement said. “I remain focused on changing the world in positive ways through diverse stories, characters, and leadership, in order to inspire the next generation.”
In 2003, Bryant was charged with raping a 19-year-old hotel employee.
The Lakers star said he believed it was a consensual sexual encounter. The case was dropped after Bryant’s accuser refused to testify.
She later filed a civil suit against him, which was settled out of court with Bryant admitting no guilt.