President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said that he does not have to issue an executive order to ban the use and importation of vapes, arguing that there are already laws which may apply on products with nicotine in cigarettes.
Further, Duterte also slammed the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) regarding its stance on his verbal order.
“I do not have to issue an executive order, paka-bobo naman nitong mga gag*ng ito na meron nang law on nicotine,” said Duterte as he delivered his speech during the inauguration of the Sarangani Energy Corp. (SEC) 2 Power Plant.
[Translation: I do not have to issue an EO. They are so stupid because there is already a law on nicotine.]
Last Wednesday, Duterte warned judges not to oppose his ban. He instructed the courts not to issue restraining orders to the Bureau of Customs and Philippine Coast Guard.
The IBP responded that courts still hold the power to hear petitions regarding his verbal order.
Duterte pointed out that there are already laws which prohibit smoking or the use nicotine-containing products.
“Why am I ordering its confiscation? Because it is thrown to the consumers. And under the Consumers Protection Act, if the thing we are importing is not legal where it was made or manufactured, then it cannot be legal here,” he said.
The Philippines has already banned smoking in public places in 2003 through Republic Act 9211. Duterte issued an executive order in 2017 to reinforce the said law.
RA 9211 or the “Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003” also prohibits individuals under 18 years of age to purchase, sell, or smoke tobacco in public places.
Meawhile, article 33 of Republic Act 739 of Republic Act 7394 or the “Consumer Act of the Philippines” states that “banned or severely restricted drugs for health and safety reasons in their country of origin shall be banned and confiscated.”
Dr. Lorenzo Mata, president of group Quit for Good, said in a forum that the use of e-cigarette is 95 percent less harmful compared to the traditional tobacco.
Mata noted that cigarette has tar which has 70,000 chemicals in it and it even comes with carcinogens. Meanwhile, in vaping, the carbon dioxide and tar are taken out of the picture since it doesn’t involving burning, he said.
Whether nicotine is present in vapes is still be to validated. And other experts have also pointed out that it is “vapors” and not smoke that vaping consumers derive from the controversial product.
On the other hand, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said that the Office of the President is set to meet with different stakeholders, as it drafts the executive order.
The Bureau of Customs has already ordered to block the entry of vaping products, such as e-cigarettes and e-liquids.