No detention, only police blotter and ‘stern warning’ for vaping ban violators for now

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 21) — Police will not yet detain those who vape in public in the absence of a formal order from President Rodrigo Duterte.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Officer-In-Charge PLtGen Archie Gamboa said that for now, there is no basis for jailing the violators of the President's the verbal order to ban vaping nationwide. But nevertheless, they will implement the marching orders of Duterte. 

"Just to implement the directive of the President. Under the police power of the state you can do that," he said on Thursday.

PNP spokesperson PBGen Bernard Banac said that two days after the order, police only gave "stern warnings" to those caught puffing in public.

He said arrested vapers will be brought to the precinct, then released immediately after their offense is recorded in a police blotter. He added fines will depend on penalties stated in local ordinances.

"Sa ngayon walang multa. Walang jail time o detention. Kaagad namang palalayain matapos ang kaniyang pagka-record sa ating blotter maliban na lang kung mayroong ordinances sa lugar ng pinagkahulihan na maaaring ipataw sa kaniya," he said.

[Translation: For now there are no fines and detention, but that depends on ordinances. We will immediately release them after the police blotter.]

In Cebu Province, zero detentions were made, but police confiscated at least 104 e-cigarette gadgets overnight from users caught vaping in public places.

The PNP believes those using e-cigarettes in public can be arrested for violating Executive Order 26, known as the nationwide smoking ban.

"May umiiral na Executive Order No. 26 noon pang 2017. Base diyan ay mayroon tayong dahilan upang sila ay arestuhin at bigyan ng stern warning na iwasan na at itigil ang paninigarilyo," the police official said.

[Translation: Executive Order No. 26 has been in place since 2017. That will be the basis for the arrest and stern warning to avoid smoking.]

However, the order signed by Duterte in 2017 does not explicitly include e-cigarettes.

Banac added, "Ang intent ng smoking ban ay pagkalat ng usok sa ating environment. At ito rin ang nangyayari kapag gumagamit ang user ng vape o e-cigarette."

[Translation: The smoking ban wants to stop the spread of smoke in the environment. It's the same thing when someone uses e-cigarettes.]

The head of a vaping group argued that vaping is not synonymous with smoking.

"Hindi kami smoke, vape po kami. Kaya sa aming pananaw hindi kami covered ng EO 26. Ang sa amin walang combustion. Ang lumalabas sa amin mukhang usok, pero vapor po iyun," Vapers Philippines Chair Paul Dator said.

Over a million vape users are affected by the crackdown on e-cigarettes.

Related: Duterte's word can't stop judges from challenging vaping ban – IBP

Gamboa said those into vaping should not "challenge" the police on implementing Duterte's order.

"Ang suggestion ko nga, huwag nyo na kami i-challenge. Very simple lang naman, huwag na kayo gumamit ng vape. If you want to use vape, use it in private places not in public places," Gamboa said.

[Translation: My suggestion is don't challenge us. What we're asking is very simple, don't use vapes. If you want, you can smoke your e-cigarettes in public places.]

CNN Philippines correspondent Gerg Cahiles contributed to this report.