MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday justified his imposition of a total ban on vaping nationwide, saying he is merely wielding his power to protect the public from health risks.
Duterte, in an interview with CNN Philippines, said he had to order the prohibition against vaping devices simply because these are “another form of cigarettes” that also contain nicotine and other potentially toxic substances that may have harmful effects on the public’s health.
The Chief Executive also said he just adopted the ban order against electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) that have been implemented by other countries like Australia and Singapore.
“So sa batas natin ngayon (in our existing law), you cannot smoke cigarettes because there is nicotine dito (here), correct? So ang kinatatakutan natin diyan nicotine (So we are afraid of nicotine). Here comes vaping… that is a substitute for nicotine. Nilalagyan ng nicotine iyan para bumuga ka rin (It also has nicotine). You still contaminate,” he said.
“And it’s being sold to the public. And all over the world, it’s now being banned. In Australia, in Singapore, it’s considered poison. So I have the right to say huwag mong ipakita iyan (do not allow it), do not sell it,” Duterte added.
Duterte’s total ban on the use and manufacture of e-cigarettes came following the Department of Health’s (DOH) recent confirmation that a 16-year-old girl from Central Visayas became the country’s first patient suffering from vape’s hazardous effects.
Around one million Filipinos use vaping devices and 25 percent of them are aged between 10 to 19 years old, according to the DOH data.
The Health department had warned that e-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals like nicotine, ultra-fine particles, carcinogens, heavy metals, and volatile organic compounds.
Many Filipinos have expressed support for the President’s sudden move, while others have questioned its legality.
Children’s rights groups have also called on Congress to pass a measure that mandates stricter regulation of vapes.
On May 16, 2017, Duterte inked Executive Order (EO) 26, which provides for the establishment of smoke-free environments in public and enclosed spaces.
The EO invokes Republic Act (RA) 9211 or Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 and RA 8749 or the Clean Air Act of 1999.
RA 9211 mandates the government to institute a “balanced” policy on the use, sale and advertisements of tobacco products to “promote a healthful environment and protect the citizens from the hazards of tobacco smoke.”
RA 8749, meanwhile, acknowledges the public’s right to “breathe clean air” and orders the government to “protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”
Duterte said he has to forbid the use of e-cigarettes, as he does not want to be remembered as “the president who did nothing to help the people in the health issues.”
“Now the government has the right to come out with measures to protect public interest, public health, public education, public works and so on and so forth. I cannot wait Congress because Congress knows that it has nicotine. Congress knows that vaping cannot be used in public,” he said.
“And Congress should know that that contraband should not be allowed to be sold because when you use it with other chemicals and nicotine, it produces another chemical of which government does not know. And it is my sworn duty to protect public health and public safety,” Duterte added. (PNA)
By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos / PNA