Philippines House Bill 5901 - A Review
Spitting on the streets and in public places is in fact a public health issue besides being a disgusting habit that people just simply ignore and continue doing it.
Citing the World Health Organization (WHO), Magsaysay said the number of deaths due to TB stands at an average of 75 Filipinos every day and is contagious and airborne. He further added that Mycobacterism tuberculosis, the bacteria which causes TB, can survive in a dried state for weeks up to eight months. Spitting has been identified as one of the factors in the spread of TB.
According to the DOH website, TB is the sixth leading cause of illness and the sixth leading cause of death in the Philippines. A National TB Program is trying to detect at least 70 percent of active TB cases and cure at least 85 percent of those cases. The program “will eventually result to the decline of the TB problem in the Philippines,” DOH said.
Under the bill, violators will face a six-month jail term. First-time offenders will be slapped with a fine of P500; P1,000 for the second offense; and P2,000 for the third offense. The violator is also required to attend a seminar conducted by the Department of Health.
Magsaysay said, "While anti-spitting laws have been in existence in a number of jurisdictions like Singapore, India, Malaysia, and China, only Davao City has vigorously implemented a similar law in the country since 2010."
He further added that Metro Manila mayors approved a resolution prohibiting spitting in public places as a means to combat Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), but no significant change happened since its implementation.
"There is a need for more health-related legislation to achieve an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development," Magsaysay said.
Is spitting really unhealthy?
Sir Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University says, "TB was still very common. The signs were justified for a packed bus where everyone was smoking and coughing. But the situation's changed - the rate of TB has dropped like a stone."
He added, "It's theoretically possible for a lump of spit on the pavement to spread TB". The spit would have to contain the tubercle bacillus and dry out of sunlight, which kills the bacteria.The particle would need to be blown into the air while the sample was still fresh and be inhaled directly into someone's lung. Such a scenario is highly unlikely - these days TB is rare and the saliva is more likely to be washed away by the rain or destroyed by ultraviolet rays.
What about the elite and amateur athletes who often say they need to spit?
Sportsmen like Rooney and golfer Tiger Woods - caught on camera in February's Dubai Desert Classic - who are publicly shamed for spitting.
Woods was defended by America commentators. Many amateur athletes, especially joggers, can be seen spitting out a mouthful of saliva in the street.
England footballer Wayne Rooney was accused in October 2008 of spitting at a photographer - use spitting to show contempt.
John Brewer, professor of sport at Bedfordshire University and a keen marathon runner, says there's a reason many runners spit. Running at a modest pace a jogger will breathe in and out 150 liters of air every minute, he says. "That inevitably dries the mouth. And while some runners deal with it by swallowing others find that it's better to spit out that dry saliva."
But Brewer urges runners to think twice before they spit. "It's not the most socially endearing of habits that will put runners in a good light. So if you really need to spit do it into a handkerchief or if you haven't got anything one, do it into your T shirt. There's always a way to avoid flobbing onto the pavement."
When you're exercising you build up an excess of saliva and sometimes that means spitting, he argues. As long as you direct the saliva towards the ground rather than in someone's face there's no problem, he believes. But context is all.
It may be okay for runners but spitting in the street is forbidden for the humble pedestrian, he adds.
But while spitting at people is manifestly unacceptable, the mere act of spitting on the pavement is not so clear-cut. For some, it's socially acceptable, for others it is a gruesome piece of anti-social behavior.
What do think of this House Bill? Are you in favor of this? Please feel free to share your thoughts or ideas about this.