Duterte orders total ban on use, import of e-cigarettes

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

November 20, 2019, 7:20 am

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday ordered the total ban on the use and importation of vaping devices or electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) in the country.

Duterte made the decision, as he acknowledged that the vapes are “not good for humans”.

“I will ban it, the use and the importation. I hope everybody is listening. Paki-relay na lang. You know why? Because it is toxic. And the government has the power to issue measures to protect public health and public interest,” the President said in a press conference held at the Palace’s Heroes Hall late Tuesday night.

“Ang cigarette, they confirm chemical there. That's not good for humans. It's deadly, it’s nicotine. It induces a habit, habit for me, and it is toxic, and it kills people… Now, itong vaping, sabi nila (they said vaping) is electronic. Don't give me that s***,” he said.

Duterte issued the directive, following the first reported case of an illness related to vaping in the country.

The Department of Health (DOH) on November 15 confirmed that a 16-year-old girl from Central Visayas who has been using e-cigarettes for six months is allegedly suffering from electronic cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI).

The girl, who allegedly complained of “sudden-onset severe shortness of breath,” met the case criteria of EVALI upon evaluation, based on the guidelines of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaping devices, which vaporize a solution that users inhale, does not use tobacco leaves, unlike regular cigarettes.

E-cigarette became popular among Filipinos who assume that it was a healthier alternative for puffers who want to quit smoking.

Arrest violators

Around one million Filipinos are using e-cigarettes, the DOH has noted.

The President said he would soon sign an executive order (EO) that would formalize his directive to stop the use of vaping devices nationwide.

But despite the presence of an EO, Duterte said he can already order the arrest of those who continue using e-cigarettes.

“Mabuti pa ang sigarilyo kasi (Ordinary cigarettes are better because) they confirmed toxic thing that causes harm to people. Nakalagay diyan 'yung nicotine (It mentions nicotine). Itong (The) vaping, it contains nicotine and other chemicals that we do not know. It has not passed the FDA Food and Drug [Administration],” he said.

“Better stop it because I will order your arrest if you do it in a room. I am now ordering the law enforcement agencies to arrest anybody vaping in public. That is like smoking. You cannot do it inside a room. That's full of s***. You contaminate people na hindi pa pala panahong mamatay (who do not deserve to die early),” Duterte added.

On May 16, 2017, Duterte signed EO 26, which provides for the establishment of smoke-free environments in public and enclosed places.

In a bid to guarantee the right of every Filipino to “breathe clean air,” EO 26 requires the establishment of designated smoking areas that may either be an open space or an enclosed area with proper ventilation. (PNA)