Zubiri eyes dialog with Palace on vaping

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    SENATE Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri yesterday said he is eyeing a dialogue with Malacanang to clarify the real stand of President Duterte on e-cigarettes and vapes and determine if senators need to craft a law to ban or regulate them.

    In an interview with dzBB, Zubiri said the President has sent mixed signals regarding his stand on e-cigarettes.

    “We want to know, we want to have a dialogue with the President on what he really wants.

    If it is outright ban that he likes, we need to have a law for that since it is hard to implement something without a law which will serve as a guide,” Zubiri said.

    Last Wednesday, Duterte ordered a ban on the use of vaping devices in public throughout the country due to their harmful effects on health but added those who want to continue vaping may do so inside their homes.

    Zubiri said they will ask the President to be more specific on his order.

    “If the President allows the use of vapes in homes, the use should be regulated. If the President wants total ban, we have to make a law for it. So that’s the direction we will seek from him,” Zubiri said, adding he will call for a caucus among senators today to discuss the issue.

    If the President wants vapes to be regulated, Zubiri said they will have to refer to a bill that he filed at the start of the 18th Congress last July which included, among others, a warning the product cannot be sold to minors and prohibiting the use of flavors in vaping products.

    “Health problems start when flavors are added to the vaping bottles. That should be totally banned, the use of additives in vapes,” he added.

    He said knowing the President’s stand on vapes will also be helpful to them since there is a pending bill to further increase taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and vaping products.

    STILL NO EO

    Due to the absence of an executive order on vaping in public, cops are left with no option but to seize the vaping equipment being used in public and let the persons using them go.

    “Due to sheer number, hauling them off to police station may entail logistics and transport.

    That may be the reason why the police just confiscated the items,” said PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, referring to incidents in Cebu where violators were not arrested though their vaping equipment were seized by the police.

    “But in areas where (the) violator was alone, like in Lucena City, he was brought to the police station,” said Banac, referring to Marq Joseph Virtucio, who was released shortly after his arrest on Thursday.

    “Arrest-blotter-release,” Banac said of the process that Virtucio ran into.

    The PNP earlier said people involved in vaping in public will have to be released after their arrest due to the absence of an executive order against vaping.

    National Capital Region Police Office chief Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas said 10 vapers have been arrested in Manila and Makati City.

    “As per the pronouncement of our Honorable President and per directive from the national headquarters, we have placed the ban on importation and use of vapes among our top priorities,” said Sinas. – With Victor Reyes and Cyra Corral