Philippines Set To Ban Vaping, Arrest Vapers
President Duterte has vowed to arrest anyone flouting the ban.
Vaping as a whole has seen a turbulent couple of months as some nations have routinely demonized vaping, while others have recognized the value and promise that vaping can provide adult smokers. As America avoids a federal ban on flavored vapor products by the Trump administration, vaping has come under fire in new ways in the Philippines by the Duterte administration.
In late October, a 16-year-old girl was hospitalized in the Philippines requiring intensive care. Despite the injury being linked to illicit cannabis cartridge usage, media portrayed the injury as vaping-related. Philippines’ President Duterte has vowed to not only ban vaping in the country but arrest any vapers caught subverting the ban as well.
In a hastily called press briefing, the President defended his actions with somewhat questionable rhetoric. “You know why? Because it is toxic, and the government has the power to issue measures to protect public health and public interest… Better stop it because I will order your arrest if you do it in a room… I am now ordering law enforcement agencies to arrest anybody vaping in public. That is like smoking” said the President.
The Philippines banned smoking in public places in 2003, and an executive order was issued reinforcing the regulation in 2017. An estimated 1 million Filipino citizens currently use vapor products according to the Department of Health.
Vaping Under Fire
Following the injury of a young Filipino woman misattributed to vaping, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte verbally ordered a ban on all vapor products. In addition, the President has directed the Phillippine National Police to arrest anyone attempting to subvert the ban in any capacity.
It is important to note that there is currently no law in place banning vaping in the Philippines, although President Duterte has stated that an executive order enforcing the ban is coming. “And they said, what’s the law? Never mind the law. The law will come. Tell them who — I ordered it,” he told reporters.
President Duterte has stated the reason for the ban is to protect the health of Filipinos and has given power to the police to arrest vapers and raid vape shops. In addition, the President has directly warned judges not to challenge the ban in any capacity, a move that has been denounced by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
Once quoted as saying that cigarette smokers should be exterminated, President Duterte is no stranger to extreme views on substances. The country is engaged in an ongoing war on drugs that has seen thousands of deaths to extrajudicial killings by police officers and vigilante squads endorsed by the President.
Truth About Vaping
While certain nations choose to engage in a war against vaping, we currently live amid a worldwide smoking epidemic that affects over 1 billion people globally. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are 38 million smokers in just the United States alone.
There is an expansive body of peer-reviewed academic research highlighting the efficacy of vaping as a smoking cessation aid. One such study, performed by researchers at University College London, found that vaping helped up to 70,000 British smokers quit in just 2017.
In fact, vaping may be the single greatest asset we have in the worldwide war against smoking. Research from the University of Louisville noted that vaping was the single most effective smoking cessation device available, even more than prescription options such as Chantix.
Not only is vaping remarkably effective in aiding smoking cessation, but research repeatedly affirms the reduced harm it poses to users compared to tobacco. Research published in the Journal of Aerosol Sciences found that vapers face a 57,000 times lower risk of developing cancer in their lifetimes compared to smokers.
The full scope of potential economic and public health ramifications to an overnight ban on an entire domestic retail industry has yet to be understood. Trade organizations, attorneys, and the Filipino vaping community are scrambling to figure out exactly what is going on and how to move forward.
Thousands of locally-owned vape shops will be forced to shutter and release their staff, potentially creating an unemployment crisis and budget shortfall at the same time. In addition, over a million vapers are now deprived of the product that freed them from smoking, and an additional 17 million Filipino smokers are now left without an incredibly effective smoking cessation device.
The Filipino vaping industry and community must take advantage of every possible avenue for challenging the legality of the ban to ensure the future of vaping in the Philippines. In addition, the global vaping industry and community should stand in solidarity and show their support to the millions who may be potentially suffering as a result of this ban.
What are your thoughts on President Duterte’s extreme stance on vaping? Do you think similar bans are likely elsewhere? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
(Image Credit – Pixabay – https://pixabay.com/images/id-2122376/)