MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he cannot ban the use of tobacco products because the importation and manufacturing of regular cigarettes are still allowed in the country.
The President issued the statement after his imposition of a total ban on vaping products was met with criticisms.
“Cigarette is allowed. Why cannot we ban cigarettes? Why? Because we allow its manufacture and maybe the importation of tobacco. We allow,” Duterte said in a speech delivered in Taguig City.
“Pinapayagan natin tapos we tax them. So ‘yung produced nila, ‘yung sigarilyo na lumalabas sa factory, hindi natin mapigilan ipag-bili na sila sa tao (We allow that and we taxed them. So the produced regular cigarettes from the factory can be sold to the public),” he added.
On May 16, 2017, Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) 26, which mandates the establishment of designated smoking areas in an open space or an enclosed area with proper ventilation, in a bid to promote smoke-free environments in public places.
The President also signed on July 25 this year Republic Act 11346, which raises the excise tax on tobacco products as part of the government’s efforts to discourage the public from smoking and generate additional revenues.
The President said puffing tobacco products are “harmful” but admitted that he had no choice but allow it.
“Wala. Pero sabi ko harmful iyan (I have no choice but I said it’s harmful),” he said.
Vaping products became popular in the Philippines because smokers think it was a healthier alternative to tobaccos.
On Tuesday, Duterte announced that he would no longer allow the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) due to potentially serious health risks of vaping.
Justifying his ban order on e-cigarettes, the President said vaping devices, like regular cigarettes, contain nicotine, one of the most addictive drugs that are dangerous to the public’s health.
Duterte added that vaping devices have “unknown” chemicals that could also be harmful.
“Eh itong sabing vaping, may nicotine…may nicotine pero may nilagay kayong mga flavoring diyan at hindi ko alam kung ano (A vaping device has nicotine… it has nicotine, with flavoring that remains unknown),” he said.
“Sabi nila anong illegal?… nicotine iyan tapos may chemicals diyan na hindi ko alam kung ano. At pinapatay mo ang mga anak namin (What’s illegal? …vaping devices have nicotine and unknown chemicals. And you are killing our children),” Duterte added. Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos / PNA – northboundasia.com