By Erma Edera
At least 14 vape shops in Manila were ordered closed for operating without business permits, the Manila Police District (MPD) said on Thursday.
Lt. Col. Carlo Magno Manuel, chief of the MPD’s Public Information Office, said out of 40 stores they have inspected in the nation’s capital, 14 of them were ordered closed.
At least 26 vape shops were also given warnings by MPD, Manuel said.
Six vape shops were closed in Raxabago police station, four in Santa Mesa, two in Moriones, and one each in Binondo and Pandacan.
Aside from the closure of the vape shops, 17 violators were also arrested by police in Manila.
Manila Police District chief Bernabe Balba said those arrested were also released immediately after being instructed to go to the station to record their names in the police blotter and confiscate their devices.
“For record purposes lang, they will go to the station, write their names, and we will release them,” Balba told the Manila Bulletin.
“Pero ngayon, umuunti na lang ang nahuhuli natin siguro dahil na rin sa order,” he added.
Manuel said they started conducting inspections on Nov. 20 to monitor the enforcement of the ban on the importation and use of vapes.
Manila has banned smoking in public since 2017 through City Ordinance No. 8521, the Smoke-Free Ordinance.
The ordinance prohibits selling, advertising, and promoting cigarettes within 100 meters from the perimeter of any school, public playground, any office of the Department of Health (DOH) and attached agencies, hospitals and health facilities.
The ordinance also prohibits the mere possession of any tobacco products, including vaping devices, “whether the smoke is being actively inhaled or exhaled.”
For those who cannot control the unhealthy habit, the ordinance mandates the establishment of smoking areas outside each city government building provided it is not less than 10 meters away from where people pass or congregate and with visible “Smoking Area” and “Minors Not Allowed” signage complete with graphic health warnings.
Violators face a fine of P2,000 on the first offense and P3,000 on second offense. For third time and subsequent offenders, they will be fined P5,000.