It began with the search for possible alternatives to smoking cigarettes in the face of the mounting negative image of the practice, due to the health threats such as cancer. One option presented was the miniaturization of another traditional substance inhalation practice, the vaporizer, and updating it with electrical mechanisms to create the e-cigarette. Following its 2003 debut, e-cigarettes and other general portable “vaping” instruments have since exploded in use worldwide. Initially proposed as an aid to reduce or cut smoking, vaping has become a habit in itself for many. In fact, the increase in vapers has spurred the government to regulate their wide use.
CNN Philippines reports that the Department of Health (DOH) has issued an administrative order that would ban the use of e-cigarettes and vaporizers in public. This is considered the next logical step following the ban on public tobacco cigarette smoking two years ago, done through Executive Order 26 by President Rodrigo Duterte. In light of this prohibition, vapers will have to share officially designated smoking areas with tobacco users. Local government units will be empowered to enforce this ban, but that will have to wait until the order is published in newspapers according to law.
But once the administrative order on the vaping ban is published, according to DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo, implementation will commence immediately. Aside from the directive to catch public vapers itself, each LGU will be responsible for setting its own penalties as local ordinances in every city and municipality in the country. Undersecretary Domingo notes that this measure will serves as protection for people in public who do not want to inhale secondhand smoke. While the discharge from vaporizers and e-cigarettes are not as noxious as tobacco smoke, their large concentrations in the air are considered just as much a nuisance.
In addition to the Department of Health ban on vaping, there is also a bill from the 17th Congress pending the President’s signature that will increase the excise tax rates not only for traditional tobacco products but also e-cigarette and vaping instruments and substances. Its provisions include a P10 price hike for every 10 milliliters of vape liquid, and a P10 tax on every single pack containing 20 e-cigarettes. These new sin taxes will take effect by January 1 of 2020, and will only increase by 5 percent for every year that follows. Malacañang has certified this bill as urgent, with the taxes gained to be funneled into the Universal Healthcare Act for medical benefits.
Image courtesy of GMA News