The Philippine National Police had started its nationwide crackdown on vaping equipment following the verbal order of President Rodrigo Duterte to arrest those caught using electronic cigarettes in public areas.
PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa said Wednesday that the President’s order expands the definition of smoking, as stated in Executive Order 26 titled “Providing for the Establishment of Smoke-free Environments in Public and Enclosed Places.”
“With the declaration of the President, it is in effect expanding the definition of smoking which is vape. Ang pinaghuhugutan siguro nito (this order may have stemmed from the idea that) there’s a higher interest that we want to protect which is national health,” Gamboa said.
Once caught in the act of vaping in public areas, Gamboa said the police may apprehend the person, bring him or her to the nearest precinct to record the incident in the police blotter, and confiscate the vaping device.
Gamboa added that violators will not be detained or asked to pay fines for now until such time a written order is out.
“This is just to emphasize to the public that even if it does not have the punitive action yet kasi nga nakasalalay siya sa EO 26 (because it is based on the EO 26), but in effect pwede pa rin namin i-impose (we can still impose this) using the police power of the state concerning a higher national interest which is national health,” the PNP officer-in-charge noted.
Authorities may also coordinate with vape and vape juice sellers to inform their customers that vaping in public areas is prohibited.
Meanwhile, Gamboa declared all PNP camps no vape zones.
Police officers who will be caught using vapes inside camps may face administrative charges.
On Tuesday, Duterte said the use and importation of vaping devices will be banned due to health hazards.
The Philippines recently had its first reported case of e-cigarette or vape-associated lung injury (EVALI) from Central Visayas which involved a 16-year-old girl.
The Department of Health said the girl, who had been using e-cigarettes for six months, was admitted to the hospital on October 21 after she complained of “sudden onset severe shortness of breath.”