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.


Russia displays its latest weapons at military show

Updated 48 min 10 sec ago
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Russia displays its latest weapons at military show

MOSCOW: Russia has displayed its latest weapons at a military show aimed at attracting more foreign customers.
President Vladimir Putin said in an address to the Army 2018 show that opened Tuesday that it reflects the "huge potential" of Russian military industries and will serve as a platform for military cooperation with other countries.
The show held at a shooting range just outside of Moscow features Russia's latest fighter jet, the Su-57, the new Armata battle tank and other new weapons.
It will involve flyovers by the air force's aerobatic squadrons and displays of new army weapons in action.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu emphasized that most new weapons at the show have proven their worth during the Syrian campaign.