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Pick your poison: Bello warns of hit to tobacco industry if smoking banned due to COVID-19

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Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III doesn’t want to ban smoking in public even if it plays a role in spreading and worsening COVID-19 infections.

Bello expressed his opposition to the smoking ban proposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases at an event in Cavite Thursday (August 13).

“We can’t ban smoking because it will adversely affect the tobacco industry,” he said in a statement shared by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Friday (August 14).

Bello noted that the tobacco industry remits P145 billion in excise taxes to the government annually and employs 2.5 million Filipinos.

“If we ban smoking, those figures will be severely affected,” Bello said. “[M]y job is to protect and preserve employment. To achieve that, I help shops to stay in business,”

To minimize the risk of catching COVID-19 while smoking, Bello suggested allowing only one smoker at a time in the designated smoking areas.

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