By Chito Chavez
Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista has approved an ordinance regulating the use of electronic cigarette (e-cigarettes) public spaces, including public conveyances, advertisements, and promotions of the product.
City Ordinance 2737-2018 aims to fully protect the health and welfare of residents of Quezon City and at the same time safeguard the interests of all stakeholders, including smokers who have the right to choose less harmful alternatives to cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are handheld products that generate a nicotine-containing aerosol without combustion. They are also significantly safer than conventional tobacco smoking.
It is also stated in the ordinance that the use of e-cigarettes indoors is prohibited in places of worship, hospitals or other health care centers, public conveyances, government offices, and educational or recreational facilities primarily intended for minors.
In all enclosed places which are open to the general public and private use, e-cigarette product use shall be allowed—provided that the owner, proprietor, operator, possessor, manager or administrator of such places shall post a sign saying: “USE OF E-CIGARETTES IS ALLOWED INSIDE,” in a clear and conspicuous manner at every ingress point.
Private workplaces may also include a designated vaping area within the building, which may be an open space or in a separate area with proper ventilation but shall not be located within the same room that has been designated as a smoking area.
It is unlawful under the ordinance to purchase e-cigarettes from a minor, for minors to sell e-cigarettes, and for minors to purchase e-cigarettes.
Advertisements of e-cigarettes shall be allowed in points-of-sale through direct marketing and on the Internet but must not be aimed at or particularly appeal to persons under 18 years old.
It shall only depict persons using e-cigarettes who are or who appear to be above 25 years of age.
The ordinance also stipulates that it shall not contain cartoon characters or subjects that depict humans or animals with comically exaggerated features or that attribute humans with unnatural characteristics to animals, plants or other objects.
Advertisements shall not show, portray or depict scenes where the actual use of, act of using, or puffing of e-cigarette products is displayed. It shall not undermine quit-smoking messages and encourage non-tobacco or non-nicotine users to use the product.
Also it shall not contain any information or element that is untrue or not scientifically substantiated, in particular with regard to product characteristics, health effects, risks or emissions.
Promotional communications shall allow for adult consumers to learn about the availability of e-cigarettes, receive information about how to use them, try them before purchasing them, subject to proof of age and certification of smoker status, and receive pre-sale and after-sales support.
Advertisements shall not appear on television, radio, or cinema with all allowable advertisements and promotional materials for nicotine receptacles shall contain the health warning: “This product may damage your health and is addictive” with the health warning shall occupy 10 percent of the bottom area of the advertisement.
Punishable acts under the ordinance are as follows: Vaping in public places where it is expressly prohibited; non-compliance by the owners or administrators of enclosed places open to the general public; and requiring vapers to use the same designated smoking areas provided under the Tobacco Regulation Act unless smoking is allowed in the entire establishment.
Violators of the ordinance shall be fined of not less than P500 but not more than P1,000 for the first offense, a fine of more than P1,000 but not more than P2,500 for the second offense.
A fine of not less than P2,500 but not more than P5,000, cancellation of business permit or license to operate may be imposed to offenders for successive violations.