Doctors banned from smoking in Philippines

Doctors in the Philippines have been banned from smoking by the country's medical association to make sure they set a good example to their patients, the group said Saturday.

The order by the Philippine Medical Association will also ensure that other people are not affected by a doctor's second-hand smoke, association president Oscar Tinio said in a statement.

"Physicians must be role models on matters of health, whose lives, decorum and personality are highly respected or emulated by all sectors of society - that is why it is highly inappropriate for physicians to be seen smoking," he said.

Spokesman Mike Aragon said that the public was encouraged to report smoking medics to the association.

Asked what would happen to doctors who violate the order, Aragon said a committee would decide that later.

"We will cross the bridge when we reach it," he told AFP.

Tinio was quoted as saying that he personally knew doctors who smoked.

Government statistics show that there are 17.3 million smokers in the Philippines, amounting to about 28 percent of the population aged 15 or older.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino admits he is a smoker, saying he needs the habit to deal with the stress of the job.