DOLE rejects smoking ban to curb virus

Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Thursday revealed that the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) was originally planning to ban smoking to control the spread of COVID-19 in the country but the Labor department rejected it.


He said they opposed it due to serious repercussions to businesses and employment.

"We can't ban smoking because it will adversely affect the tobacco industry," Bello said during the COVID-19 Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) team visit in Gen. Trias, Cavite.

The Labor chief said the tobacco business remits to the government P145 billion in excise taxes yearly while employing 2.5 million Filipino workers.

Bello said it also contributes heavily to the universal health fund of the government.

"If we ban smoking, those figures will be severely affected," he said.

As Labor and Employment Secretary, Bello said " it is his job is to protect and preserve employment. To achieve that, I help shops to stay in business."

As a result of DoLE's position on the matter, smoking is still allowed but doing so should be done individually in designated smoking areas.

"We can smoke in smoking areas. But the condition is one smoker at a time," Bello said.