President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Tuesday that he will ban the use and importation of vapes or e-cigarettes, adding he will order arrest to those who use such devices in public.
“I will ban it. I will ban it — the use and importation,” he said during a press briefing in Malacañang.
“You know why? Because it is toxic, and government has the power to issue measures to protect public health and public interest,” Duterte added.
He also warned to order arrest to anyone who will dare to violate his order.
“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,” the President said.
Go urged Duterte to order regulation of e-cigarettes
Earlier, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go said he would urge Duterte to issue an executive order regulating the manufacturing, distribution, sale, and use of e-cigarettes.
“Kailangang magkaroon ng mas mahigpit na regulasyon ang ating otoridad na may kaugnayan sa produksyon, distribusyon at paggamit ng lahat ng uri ng e-cigarettes,” Go said.
This came after Go, who is chair of the Senate health committee, was alarmed as the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the country’s first case of electronic cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI).
The victim was a 16-year-old girl from Central Visayas who has been using e-cigarettes for 6 months.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the girl was hospitalized on October 21 due to “sudden-onset severe shortness of breath.”
The DOH earlier suggested for immediate ban on vaping since it warned the public that e-cigarette devices are not a proven replacement for nicotine and that they can result to various lung illnesses.
Recorded deaths and injuries
According to the DOH, about 1 million Filipinos are using e-cigarettes.
In the United States, on the other hand, 42 people have already died from using the device whereas 2,172 have been reported to have suffered from lung injuries as of November 14.
Over three-quarters of those injured used tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main psychoactive substance of marijuana, with or without nicotine products.
Meanwhile, two-thirds of the THC-containing products also tested positive for Vitamin E acetate, an oily chemical which is added to THC vaping liquids to thicken or dilute them. According to a Reuters report, this substance is the initial culprit in determining the cause of lung injuries.