By Genalyn Kabiling and Jeffrey Damicog
There is no need to issue an executive order (EO) banning the use and importation of vaping products in the country, President Duterte declared Friday.
On Saturday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra supported Duterte’s stand, citing that existing laws in the country make it possible to ban e-cigarettes without the necessity of an EO.
In justifying the government’s move to confiscate e-cigarettes and arrest people vaping in public, the President is invoking two existing laws – the law regulating nicotine products and the consumer protection law.
“Nicotine is prohibited. You cannot use nicotine here. I will arrest you. There’s a law. It’s based on the national law and the pollution and everything. It’s deleterious to the health. It’s a hazard to health,” he said during his visit to Sarangani province.
“There’s a law regarding the use of nicotine. I do not have to issue an executive order. Paka-bobo naman itong mga g*** na ito (These fools are so stupid). If you use vaping in public, there is nicotine. And so without the other chemical combustion there, you are already violating the law in vaping because it contains nicotine,” he added.
Republic Act No. 9211, the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, regulates the packaging, sale, distribution, and advertisements of tobacco products. The law bans smoking in public places as well as prohibits minors from selling, buying, and smoking tobacco products.
Another law mentioned by the President is Republic Act No. 7394, the Consumer Act of the Philippines. Under the law, he said, consumer products cannot be imported into the country if they are banned or withdrawn in the country of manufacture.
“Under the Consumers’ Protection Act, if the thing that they – we are importing is prohibited by the place where it was made, then automatically it is also not good and it is should – should be by operation of common sense,” Duterte said.
“These general statutes may serve as legal basis for prohibiting or regulating vaping until a more specific law on the matter is enacted or executive order issued,” Guevarra said Saturday.
“There is also an existing law banning trade in toxic or hazardous goods or substances,” Guevarra added.
The Justice secretary also said that if the vaping product use a tobacco derivative, it may already be covered by EO 26 banning smoking in certain public places.
Duterte noted that vaping products, which contain not only nicotine but also unknown chemicals, have not passed the Food and Drug Administration.
The President also took a swipe at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) following its comments about his vaping ban.
IBP President Domingo Cayosa had earlier said any person can challenge the President’s vaping ban in court, and that it is up to the court to decide its legal basis.
Duterte said, “I’m so pissed off with this guy. Eh, walang alam, eh. (He’s ignorant.) And the others – itong IBP. Anong Bar exam ba itong mga u**l na ‘to (What Bar exam did these fools take)?”
The President had earlier warned court judges against interfering with his vaping ban, saying he would not obey their order.
Duterte had announced that he would ban the importation of vaping products as well as their use in public amid concerns they pose danger to public health. He initially claimed that an executive order on the matter would be issued soon.
He said he would take the advice of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III about the dangers that vaping poses to public health. “Secretary Duque says it’s bad. To whom shall I seek the medical expertise? Well, of course, I will listen to Duque, he’s the Secretary of [Health],” he said.