THE Police Regional Office (PRO)-Western Visayas has given the go signal to all police units in Western Visayas to apprehend individuals who are using e-cigarettes or vape in public.
PRO-Western Visayas spokesperson Joem Malong said based on the memorandum they received from the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters dated November 20, they were given the directive to arrest and charge any individuals caught vaping in public areas.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Malong explained that they will use the executive order issued by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017 as a basis in filing the appropriate charges.
Back in 2017, Duterte signed Executive Order No. 26 which provides for the establishment of smoke-free environment in public places and enclosed places or the “Nationwide Smoking Ban.”
Under the president’s order, individuals can only smoke in designated smoking areas.
Earlier on Thursday, Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) spokesperson, Police Lieutenant Colonel Ariel Pico, said they recommend reforming the city’s anti-smoking task force.
Despite Pico stating that the city’s anti-smoking task force has been dissolved, it has been confirmed by Watchmen Daily Journal that the task force is still active and is reported to have been going around the city to apprehend individuals who are smoking in public.
However, Pico said the current ordinance prohibiting smoking in public areas needs to be amended in order to include vaping.
Under the present ordinance, those caught smoking in public places are charged P500 on their first offence, P1,000 on the second, and P2,500 or 30 days behind bars on the third.
Duterte has issued a verbal order to ban the use and importation of e-cigarette after the first confirmed vaping-associated lung injury case was reported.