‘ON THE RIGHT TRACK’ Vape ban boosts Iloilo City anti-smoking drive

ILOILO City – This city is one of the first in the country to campaign against vaping, according to Iñigo Garingalao, executive director of the Iloilo City Anti-Smoking Task Force (ICAST). President Rodrigo Duterte’s ban on the use and importation of vaping devices or electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) affirms that this city is on the right track, he said.

A city ordinance banning smoking in public places and conveyances cover vaping. Garingalao said the ban ordered by the President would strengthen ICAST’s campaign.

Duterte said vapes are “not good for humans.”

“I will ban it, the use and the importation. I hope everybody is listening. Paki-relay na lang. You know why? Because it is toxic. And the government has the power to issue measures to protect public health and public interest,” the President said in a press conference at Malacañang late Tuesday night.

Garingalao agreed with the President. “Vapes are being marketed as safer than conventional cigarettes and even as smoking cessation tools. But that is misleading,” stressed the ICAST chief.

The task force recently apprehended several minors for vaping.

“Youths are adventurous. They try new things,” said Garingalao.

He, however, assured the public that vaping is not as rampant here compared to other big cities like Manila, Cebu and Baguio.

Still, he acknowledged that vaping here “naga amat-amat popular sa mga youth.”

The Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) is expected to help ICAST apprehend those vaping. Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge Lieutenant General Archie Gamboa ordered a nationwide crackdown on the use of electronic cigarettes yesterday.

He also ordered all police commanders to increase police visibility in all public places, particularly the vicinity of schools, and to run after those who would dare to vape in no-smoking areas.

“Confiscated items must be accounted for and disposed of properly,” said Gamboa.

Duterte ordered the ban following the first reported case of an illness related to vaping in the country.

The Department of Health (DOH) on Nov. 15 confirmed that a 16-year-old girl from Central Visayas who had been using e-cigarettes for six months was allegedly suffering from electronic cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI).

The girl, who allegedly complained of “sudden-onset of severe shortness of breath,” met the case criteria of EVALI upon evaluation, based on the guidelines of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaping devices, which vaporize a solution that users inhale, do not use tobacco leaves, unlike regular cigarettes.

Around one million Filipinos are using e-cigarettes, according to DOH.

The President said he would soon sign an executive order (EO) that would formalize his directive to stop the use of vaping devices nationwide.

But he made it clear he can already order the arrest of those who continue using e-cigarettes.

“Mabuti pa ang sigarilyo kasi they confirmed toxic thing that cause harm to people. Nakalagay diyan ‘yung nicotine. Itong vaping, it contains nicotine and other chemicals that we do not know. It has not passed the FDA Food and Drug [Administration],” he said.

On May 16, 2017 Duterte signed EO 26 which provides for the establishment of smoke-free environments in public and enclosed places.

In a bid to guarantee the right of every Filipino to “breathe clean air,” EO 26 requires the establishment of designated smoking areas that may either be an open space or an enclosed area with proper ventilation.

“Better stop it because I will order your arrest if you do it in a room. I am now ordering the law enforcement agencies to arrest anybody vaping in public. That is like smoking. You cannot do it inside a room. That’s full of s***. You contaminate people na hindi pa pala panahong mamatay,” Duterte added. (With a report from the Philippine News Agency/PN)


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