DOH bans use of e-cigarettes, vapes in public

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 3) — The Department of Health has banned the use of electronic cigarettes in public, with local government units to be tasked to apprehend violators.

Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Eric Domingo said Secretary Francisco Duque III has signed an administrative order that bans the use of e-cigarettes and vaporizers (vapes) in public places. This comes two years after President Rodrigo Duterte's Executive Order 26 that prohibits cigarette smoking in common spaces, and instead limits the activity to designated smoking areas.

Domingo said the order is not yet enforceable, as the DOH has not yet published the rules in newspapers as required by law.

"Once published, then it will be implemented. Kasama dito ang ating pagbabawal ng paggamit ng mga vape at mga e-cigarette sa publiko, kagaya ng pagbabawal sa tobacco at paninigarilyo sa publiko," Domingo told CNN Philippines' Newsroom Ngayon.

[Translation: We will work together to prohibit the use of vapes and e-cigarettes in public, much like the prohibitions on tobacco and cigarettes in public.]

"'Yung taong ayaw naman pong makasinghot o mga secondhand smokers should be protected at hindi sila dapat mausukan [This includes the ban on using vapes and e-cigarettes in public, much like the ban on tobacco and smoking. People who do not want to inhale secondhand smoke should be protected so they don't inhale the fumes]."

Penalties for violators will depend on local ordinances enforced by the town or city where the smoker was apprehended, Domingo added.

The 17th Congress approved a bill raising the excise taxes on tobacco products just before ending sessions last month. The measure also imposes sin taxes on heated tobacco products and vapor tobacco products.

READ: Higher cigarette taxes up for Duterte's signature

Once signed into law, the liquid content for vapes will be charged a tariff of ₱10 per 10 milliliters, while a pack of 20 units of e-cigarettes will also carry a ₱10 tax by Jan. 1, 2020. The duties will be increase by 5 percent each succeeding year.

The measure has been certified as urgent by Malacañang, saying the additional funds are meant to support expanded medical benefits provided under the Universal Healthcare Act.