MANILA (UPDATE)—Filipinos can still use e-cigarettes and vaping devices in their home, President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday even as he discouraged the public from doing so.
Duterte, however, said he has banned the importation of e-cigarettes and their use in public places to protect the health of Filipinos.
“And I immediately ordered last night to confiscate and arrest people vaping in public places. Meaning to say, the safest way to do it is in your house,” he said in a speech during the 80th anniversary of the Department of National Defense.
“But if you are not that stupid, when you do that, you contaminate all including your children in the family,” he added.
The President also ordered the Philippine military to join in the crackdown.
Duterte expressed his strong dislike for vaping, especially how “it’s being used by the youth of this country with gusto, not realizing the danger.” He chalked it up to “youthful negligence.”
“Last night I ordered the local law enforcement agencies and the military – you are supposed to help this campaign – to arrest anybody vaping or even smoking in public,” he said.
Duterte gave the order in the absence of an executive order and assured law enforcers and military that “the order, the executive order, never mind, it will come,” adding, “I do not want anybody in the Philippines vaping.”
“Do not worry. Just stop it,” said Duterte. “And the police, do your work. The Armed Forces, do your work. I will take full responsibility alone. Nobody else. Ako lang.”
In describing the new crackdown on vaping, Duterte used statements he first made to talk about the war on drugs.
“You are protected because I’m ordering you a legal order preventing injury to the Filipino children. That is what I meant when I say do not destroy my country because I will kill you.”
He also placed some blame on the bad influence the youth may get from the streaming website Netflix, particularly the film “Bad Teacher.”
“Netflix. There’s a ‘Bad Teacher.’ You can see how they smoke. Very casual thing and nonchalance about the law. That is because their Constitution – they say allows it.”
Bad Teacher is a 2011 romantic comedy starring Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz.
Duterte on Tuesday banned vaping in public places as well as the importation of e-cigarettes. Police on Wednesday announced the start of its crackdown on vape users.
“The e-cigarette is making it worse. There are chemicals that are added to nicotine which we do not know. And I am not about ready to allow the young people of the Philippines to get sick and to die,” the President said.
The Department of Health (DOH) last week confirmed its first reported case of an illness related to vaping or the use of e-cigarettes, one involving a teenage girl.
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.—With a report from Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News