LACKS CLEAR RULES: Anti-vape order enforced sans arrest, confiscation

(Vaping photo from Getty Images)

By: Jennifer P. Rendon 

The Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) continues to enforce the ban on the importation and use of vapes or e-cigarettes.

But contrary to its initial order, persons caught using vapes will no longer be arrested.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Joem Malong, PRO-6 spokesperson, said they will also refrain from confiscating vapes.

The move came after a consultation and study done by the Regional Legal Service Division.

“In the absence of an executive order that has a clear-cut provision against the use of vapes, we could not make any arrest or confiscate those who would be caught using e-cigarettes,” Malong said.

Instead, persons caught vaping will be brought to the police station for booking.

From Nov. 21 to 23, 2019, PRO-6 has apprehended eight “violators” of the anti-vape order.

Four of the users are from Iloilo City, three in Aklan, and one in Antique.

Cops seized the vapes of persons arrested in Iloilo City.

But Malong said they can now retrieve their vapes at the police station.

Meanwhile, PRO-6 reports also showed that the eight vape users caught were products of 371 operations done all over Western Visayas.

Police also visited 99 vape stores in the region and issued warning relative to President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-vape order.

Of the 99 stores, forty-five are in Bacolod City, 12 each in Antique and Iloilo City, 9 in Negros Occidental, 8 each in Aklan and Iloilo province, and 5 in Capiz while none in Guimaras province.

Earlier, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said it will enforce the ban on vapes or e-cigarettes despite the absence of an executive order that defines the grounds for arresting offenders.

The police force banked on Executive Order No. 26 as the basis for the vaping ban.

Duterte issued EO No. 26 entitled “Providing for the Establishment of Smoke-Free Environments in Public and Enclosed Places” on May 16, 2017.

The executive order invoked the Clean Air Act of 1999 and the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 to impose a nationwide ban on smoking in all public places in the Philippines.

It was a replication of an ordinance passed in 2002 in Davao City where Duterte was a former mayor.

But it was gathered that nowhere in the nine prohibited acts under EO 26 pertained to the ban on the importation and use of vapes.