President Duterte has been nothing if not controversial since coming to power in the Philippines. He is known for an aggressive approach to justice, and that is putting it mildly. Prior to becoming the president, Duterte was the mayor in the city of Davao for 22 years. In Davao, smoking in public areas could result in a $100 fine or four months behind bars. Now that he’s president, Duterte is bringing that same law into effect nationwide.
Philippine’s Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial says that the new Philippine’s anti-smoking law will go into effect across the country within a month. Probably by the end of October 2016. The smoking law does extand to vaping. So this is not the best news for vaping. It is especially not good news for the vapor industry because vaping continues to be associated hand in hand with smoking. That happenes in the Philippines, it happens in the US, it happens everywhere.
The law will says that there is no smoking or vaping permitted in public areas. That includes parks, bus stations and even in vehicles. There will be designated smoking areas. The smoking rate in the Philippines is hovering at about 33%. There is no doubt that soking is a huge problem in PI but vaping could be a help not a hindrance.
Perhaps the biggest challenge to the vaping community worldwide is the work that needs to be done to separate smoking and vaping. Somehow, the public perception that vaping and smoking are in some way similar has to change. Many of us wish that vape devices had never been called ‘electronic cigarettes’. Perhaps if they were originally called ‘vapor sticks’ or ‘electronic vapor’ or something like that things would be different today.
Public Smoking And Vaping Ban In Philippines
Health offficals in the Philippines have been fighting the tobacco lobby for many years. Philip-Morris has a major presence in the country and officials have been warning tobacco companies that a strict law like this could be coming. Duterte is certainly the one to do it. He has cracked down on crime in an aggressive, “Damn the torpedoes” approach that has proven to be very controversial around the world.
Any violations of the new policy, if someone smokes or vapes in a ‘public’ area, there coild be fines or even up to four months in jail. Will this law really be actively enforced? Given Duterte’s track record, it is safe to assume that this law will be heavily enforced and chances are we will see people going to jal for vaping or smoking in public.
Nearly half of Filipino men are smokers and 9% of women. It is estimated that smoking costs the Philippines $4 billion in health costs and lost productivity each year. Pubic health experts estimate that smoke free laws have the potantial to reduce smoking rates by 4%. Only time will tell how it will work out in the Philppines.
There is a vibrant vaping community in the Philippines. That community now has some work ahead and given the no holds barred approach of the President, they need to be careful yet strong in an effort to get the message out that vaping is not smoking. Given the high smoking rates, economic and health care costs that smoking causes, the Filipino government may be missing the chance to embrace vaping and make a real difference in reducing tobacco harm.
Designated smoking areas are slated to be established 33 feet away from buildings. If you are a smoker or vaper in the Philippines, you would be well advised to stick to the designated areas or smoke or vape in the privacy of your home.