TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte vowed on Tuesday (Nov. 19) that he would ban e-cigarettes as the country reported its first vaping-related lung injury.
A 16-year-old girl admitted to a hospital in late October was diagnosed with a lung disease believed to be caused by the use of e-cigarettes, according to the Philippine government's Department of Health. Local health officials and politicians have called for tighter regulations on associated products, reported NPR.
In response, Duterte announced the Southeast Asian country will soon prohibit the use and importation of vaping products, which he believes are “toxic,” wrote BusinessWorld. Individuals caught using them in public will be arrested, he warned.
This would be yet another iron-fisted measure to be implemented at the order of the Philippine president, formerly a smoker. The Phillippines outlawed smoking in public in 2003, and Duterte issued an executive order in 2017 to reinforce the law over concerns that an increasing number of Filipinos suffer from tobacco-related illnesses, wrote NPR.
The country has around 1 million vapers, reported ABS-CBN News. “Quit For Good,” a group advocating for e-cigarettes as an alternative to tobacco, urged Duterte to give second thought to the ban, saying the policy could have “dire consequences in the health and economy of the nation.”