Respect non-vapers right, police official says amid debate on legal ground on ban on vape

By Aaron Recuenco 

A police official urged on Saturday vapers to respect the right of those who do not puff electronic cigarettes a middle ground amid the debate on the legal ground on President Duterte’s order to arrest vapers puffing in public places.

A man smokes vape or e-cigarette in Manila on Wednesday, November 20, 2019,   In a bid to protect public health and interest, President Duterte has ordered a ban on the use and importation of vaping products or electronic cigarettes in the country. He would ban the importation and use of vapes in public places following the confirmation of vape-related illness involving a 16-year old girl in Central Visayas.(photo by ali vicoy) A man smokes vape or e-cigarette in Manila on Wednesday, November 20, 2019.  (Ali Vicoy / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Brig. Gen. Valeriano de Leon, director of the Central Visayas regional police, said the same appeal applies to smokers of tobacco products who are covered by the Executive Order 26, or ban on smoking tobacco products in public places.

“Smoking is dangerous to your health. In the same manner, equally dangerous is secondhand smoke to non-smokers. Cigarette and e-cigarette smoking both pose serious health problems,” said de Leon.

De Leon’s statement came amid criticisms police have no right to arrest vapers since there is no law that clearly prohibits them from puffing in public places.

President Duterte earlier ordered a ban on importation of vape products and ordered law enforcement agencies to run after vapers puffing in public places, citing public health as the State’s main concern.

Duterte’s argument was backed by the Philippine National Police, saying that while vaping is not covered by EO 26, the same executive order also states the need for government to prioritize public health

De Leon, for his part, said that it all boils down on the issue of vapers respecting the right of non-vapers.

“While they have the right to use e-cigarettes, they should also consider that there are a lot of people who do not want to inhale the smoke coming from vape. They should respect these people so it follows that they should use the vape not in public places,” said de Leon.

In Central Visayas, a total of 184 people were apprehended for using vapes in public as of Friday. But they were all released.

On the other hand, a total of 230 e-cigarettes were also confiscated.

“All these confiscated devices shall be destroyed to make sure that these will not be peddled again in the streets,” said de Leon.