MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he will ban the use of vaping devices or e-cigarettes in public, as well as the importation of such devices.
"I will ban it. I will ban it, the use and importation," Duterte told reporters.
"You know why? Because it is toxic, and government has the power to issue measures to protect public health and public interest," he added.
Duterte said those who will violate his order will be arrested.
"Better stop it because I will order your arrest if you do it in a room. I am now ordering the law-enforcement agencies to arrest anybody vaping in public. That is like smoking," he added.
The Philippines earlier confirmed its first reported case of an illness related to vaping or the use of e-cigarettes, one involving a teenage girl.
The Department of Health (DOH) said it received the report on a recorded case of electronic cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI) from Central Visayas.
It said the patient is a 16-year-old girl who has been using e-cigarettes for 6 months. The health department said she was into "dual use," "concurrently" smoking regular cigarettes.
The DOH said the girl was admitted to hospital on Oct. 21 complaining of "sudden-onset severe shortness of breath."
The DOH earlier called for an outright ban on vaping as it warned Filipinos that e-cigarettes are not a proven nicotine replacement therapy and can cause lung illness.
Around 1 million Filipinos use e-cigarettes, according to the DOH.
In the United States, some 42 people have died while 2,172 were sickened from the use of e-cigarettes as of Nov. 14.
More than three-quarters of those sickened used tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive substance of marijuana, with or without nicotine products.
Of the THC-containing products, two-thirds also tested positive for Vitamin E acetate, a cutting agent believed to be used to stretch the amount of THC oil, and an early suspect in efforts to determine the cause of the injuries, according to a Reuters report.