Just hours after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced he would ban e-cigarette use, police were ordered today to begin arresting people caught vaping in public and to confiscate the devices.
The abrupt prohibition, revealed by Duterte late on Tuesday, adds to a growing global backlash against a product once promoted as less harmful than smoking, according to a story from the dailymail.
Duterte called the devices ‘toxic’ and said vaping introduced ‘chemicals’ into the user’s body.
He then threatened to arrest anyone vaping publicly in a country that already has some of Asia’s toughest anti-smoking rules.
“I am now ordering the law enforcement agencies to arrest anybody vaping in public,” he said, comparing vaping to smoking.
Earlier, the Philippines reported its first vaping-related illness. According to the Department of Health (DOH), a teenage girl was admitted to hospital on Oct. 21 complaining of “sudden onset severe shortness of breath.”
The DOH called for an outright ban on vaping earlier as it warned Filipinos that e-cigarettes are not a proven nicotine-replacement therapy and can cause lung illness.
Around 1 million Filipinos use e-cigarettes, according to the DOH.