Philippines: citizens should enforce smoking ban; vaping may be next

Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has encouraged vigilante violence in his brutal war on drugs

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The first version of this story incorrectly reported (based on stories by the New York Times and CNN) that the executive order described covers both smoking and vaping. In fact, the order only covers smoking. The Philippines Department of Health will soon issue a separate order covering vaping. This story has been updated to reflect those facts.

We apologize for the error.

Thanks to two Twitter followers — Phil and Jukka Kelovuori — for pointing out the mistake.

Is Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte about to expand his brutal war on drugs to include smoking? The authoritarian leader issued an executive order last week that prohibits smoking in public places.

Under the new law, smoking will only be allowed in “designated smoking areas,” according to the New York Times. The law also restricts advertising, and promises serious punishment for those who give or sell tobacco products to minors, including jail sentences.

The Philippines Department of Health will soon issue regulations on e-cigarettes too, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “We will just make a separate issuance, like an FDA (Food and Drug Administration) order,” Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial told the paper. The executive order issued by President Dutarte does not currently cover vaping. (An earlier edition of this article misreported that vaping was part of the ban.)

Most disturbing is the president’s call for citizens to get involved in enforcing the law. The strongman is asking Filipinos to join “Smoke Free Task Forces” to assist authorities in catching and punishing violators, calling to mind the murderous drug war he has carried out.

The fish will grow fat feeding on the bodies

Since Duterte took power in the Pacific island nation, thousands of suspected drug dealers and users have been killed, encouraged by the bloodthirsty president. Estimates for the last six months of 2016 alone are more than 4,000 killed by vigilantes and another 2,000 killed by police.

Duterte has blessed the extrajudicial violence. “Even if I wanted to I cannot kill them all,” he said, explaining his call for vigilante help. During his presidential campaign, he promised to kill 100,000 “addicts” and dealers, and said the fish in Manila Bay would grow fat from feeding on all the drug users’ bodies he would dump there.

His brutal tactics have been decried by human rights advocates, but unsurprisingly, ignored by international tobacco control officials, who seem happy to overlook thousands of state-sanctioned murders as long as Duterte adheres to tobacco control orthodoxy.

Vera daCosta e Silva, head of the World Health Organization’s FCTC secretariat — its tobacco control agency — cheerfully tweeted to the dictator last fall. “Congratulations Philippines,” she wrote in October, while thousands of Filipinos were being slaughtered on Duterte’s orders.

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Jim McDonald
I spend most of my time studying the regulatory, legislative and scientific challenges to vaping, advocating for our right to exist, and talking with others who do the same. Consider me a source for information, and feel free to agree or disagree with anything I say. I love good coffee and sweet Michigan cherries. My childhood hero was Gordie Howe.
  • Brian Scott

    From the author:
    “I spend most of my time studying the regulatory, legislative and scientific challenges to vaping, ”

    May I suggest you spend time in the Philippines (or actually ask a vaper that lives here!) before making wild speculations about how the smoking ban works here.
    You are way off base to suggest that violence has been promulgated against vapers or smokers with the smoking ban. Total bullshit.

    • Jim McDonald

      I didn’t say that there has been violence. I just compared his two “drug wars.” The New York Times and CNN have also drawn those parallels.

      • Brian Scott

        “I didn’t say that there has been violence.” No – you implied it.

        “Most disturbing is the president’s call for citizens to get involved in enforcing the law. The strongman is asking Filipinos to join “Smoke Free Task Forces” to assist authorities in catching and punishing violators, calling to mind the murderous drug war he has carried out.”

        You clearly imply the government is promoting violence against smokers/vapers as if it’s the same thing as the ‘war on drugs’ here. It isn’t.

        You are wrong. Regardless of how many other media outlets have made the same parallel. I live here. I have for years. I vape. The parallel between smoking ban and ‘war on drugs’ does not exist. It’s a myth. The smoking ban has been in effect for years in Davao City (where I live, home of Duterte), nobody has been killed for smoking/vaping in an unauthorized place (My father in-law was just ticketed for it – cost him $10 and a mandatory smoking cessation class – he vapes now). It’s a lie or ignorance based upon the suggestion of other media outlets to suggest that violence against vapers is what the President here is asking for.

      • Bob Coxx

        The New York Times and CNN? Really? Two of the biggest FAKE NEWS outlets in the U.S.