Manila is a town of action, no matter where you are across the city, what time of day it is, there will aways be something happening. This is just a by-product of the high density living residents of Manila have grown accustomed. Manila is known to contain some of the most densely populated areas in the world; a certain part of Manila known as the Tondo district houses over 600,000 residents in that one area alone.
Unfortunately with these high-density cities have some drawbacks, especially when it comes to the field of public health. I would not classify the air quality in Metro Manila as being in the same league as some of the larger cities of China and India. But I’m sure that the consensus is that the air quality within Manila is often less than satisfactory.
This brings me to the recent hot topic of a blanket ban on smoking in public within The Philippines. Banning smoking is an issue which I both strongly agree with; though I have some mixed feelings when considering the context in which the new laws have risen.
The first issue is restricting people’s access to tobacco products, which this prohibition does not seem to address. I think that the ban should not restrict the individuals right in engaging in the act of smoking, as I feel that psychologically stable people should remain somewhat autonomous when it comes to choosing what they do to their bodies.
The issue the ban addresses is when unwilling individuals are forced into the detrimental act of breathing in cigarette smoke due to no fault of their own. I am happy for people to engage in this unhealthy habit as long as the adverse outcome is confined to the single party.
The issue the ban addresses is when unwilling individuals are forced into the detrimental act of breathing in cigarette smoke due to no fault of their own. Simply walking past a mall or office building can leave you having to breathe in clouds of tobacco smoke from staff standing outside during their breaks. I have no problems with individuals engaging in this unhealthy habit as long as the negative outcome is confined to the individual.
So when it comes to public health, the ban seems like a step in the right direction. Though I feel like the smoking ban can be seen as low-hanging fruit. Especially when it comes to the bigger issue of making improvements to the quality of air inhaled by residents of the countries larger cities such as Manila and Cebu.
I am supportive of any effort to positively impact the health of the public. But an aggressive push against cigarette smoke polluting our air should be partnered with an equal, if not more aggressive push against bigger sources of air pollution within our cities such as vehicle exhaust and heavy industry.
Is the goal based on encroaching on the liberties of tobacco users in the country or is there a much bigger end goal of improving the health of the general public by minimizing the presence of toxic particles in the air?
Eradicating cigarette smoke is a win although very minor when it comes to the goal of improving the lives of citizens of The Philippines. Hope lies in this move being a step towards more significant action in improving conditions within the countries thriving cities.