Arrests ordered in Philippines after enforcement of vaping ban

A man uses a vape device in this illustration picture. Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP Manila, Philippines Nov 20, 2019, 01.57 PM (IST)

Just hours after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced he would ban e-cigarette use, police were ordered on Wednesday to begin arresting people caught vaping in public and to confiscate the devices.

The abrupt prohibition, revealed by Duterte late Tuesday, adds to a growing global backlash against a product once promoted as less harmful than smoking.

Duterte called the devices "toxic" and said vaping introduced "chemicals" into the user's body.

He then threatened to arrest anyone vaping publicly in a country that already has some of Asia's toughest anti-smoking rules.

The president, a former smoker, is notorious internationally for his deadly anti-narcotics crackdown, but he has also targeted tobacco with a wide-ranging ban on smoking in public.

Citing "the order of the president", the head of the Philippine police ordered "effective today, all police units nationwide to enforce the ban on the use of vapes; ensure that all violators will be arrested," according to a statement.

Duterte's order came days after Philippine health authorities reported the nation's first vaping-related lung injury, which resulted in a 16-year-old girl being hospitalised.

About 24 per cent of Filipinos were tobacco users according to a 2015 World Health Organization study, the most recent available.

E-cigarettes do not "burn" but instead heat up a liquid, tasting of anything from bourbon to bubble gum, and which usually contains nicotine, that turns into vapour and is inhaled.

Story highlights

About 24 per cent of Filipinos were tobacco users according to a 2015 World Health Organization study, the most recent available