Smokers, after years of legal restrictions, will finally be able to purchase cigarettes and vape pens in the country’s most populous city of Cebu, a Philippine newspaper reported Thursday.
The tobacco industry will open up to the public in the capital city, Manila, in late November, as part of a nationwide initiative called Cigarette Smoke Free City (CSC).
The Philippine tobacco control board, or TCB, announced the launch of Cigarette Smokers’ Access Initiative (CSAI) earlier this month.
Under the initiative, CSCI will allow cigar smokers to purchase tobacco products at the Cebuanas main shopping malls.
“The first phase of the CSAI initiative is to enable the public to purchase and consume cigarettes in a manner similar to cigarette vending machines,” said Cebuana Cigarette Association of the Philippines CEO Antonio “A” Gomes.
“This is a very positive step for our industry.”
The tobacco company, which makes cigarettes in the central Philippine city of Leyte, had been in the process of expanding its retail outlets in the city and other nearby areas.
The company had been hoping to start up its own outlet in Cebuecas city of Makati in 2020.
The Philippines has seen a steep increase in the use of tobacco products in recent years, particularly among the middle class, and has seen an increase in cases of lung cancer and other diseases linked to smoking, among others.
But the tobacco industry remains one of the poorest in the region, and many of its workers have been forced to resort to smoking.
Cigarette Smoker’s Access Initiative will allow CSCIs first phase to allow them to start their own tobacco retail outlets.
According to Gomes, CSAIs first retail outlet will be located in Cucuta, which is a town near Cebues capital city of Manila.