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.


Swine flu kills 40 in western India

Updated 18 January 2019
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Swine flu kills 40 in western India

  • Last year around 1,100 people died and 15,000 were infected across India by the highly contagious A H1N1 virus that spreads from human-to-human
  • Cases spike in the winter months of December and January in the west and north of the country including in Rajasthan and in New Delhi

JAIPUR, India: At least 40 people have died and more than 1,000 have tested positive for swine flu since the beginning of this year in a western Indian state popular with foreigners, authorities said Friday.
Last year around 1,100 people died and 15,000 were infected across India by the highly contagious A H1N1 virus that spreads from human-to-human.
Cases spike in the winter months of December and January in the west and north of the country including in Rajasthan and in New Delhi.
Authorities in Rajasthan, famous for its deserts and palaces, have told doctors they must seek permission before going on leave and plan a door-to-door campaign to detect infected patients.
Health officials have also launched an awareness campaign to sensitise people about symptoms, precautions and treatment, and have screened more than 5,100 people.
“Total deaths are 40 and positive cases are 1,036 as from January 1 to 17 in Rajasthan. One of the deaths occurred on Thursday,” according to a statement by the Rajasthan health department.
One high-profile victim in Delhi this week was Amit Shah, a top aide to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was admitted to hospital with the virus.
Rajasthan’s Jodhpur district recorded the highest death toll with 16 fatalities and 225 people testing positive.
No travel advisory has been issued however.