Vaping in the wrong spot may soon result in a steep prison sentence in the Philippines, where there is already a blanket ban on public smoking.
Lawmakers in the country are looking to tighten their grip on e-cigarettes, which officials argue is not backed up by “concrete scientific evidence.” Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III introduced the bill Monday, which would ban vaping in schools, places of worship, public transportation, government buildings and recreational facilities, reports Rappler.
While the proposals are not unlike restrictions placed on the devices in Europe and across American localities, the repercussions are severe. First-time offenders face the U.S. equivalent of a roughly $5,000 fine, which is doubled for a second vaping violation. Individuals caught a third time face the equivalent of a roughly $50,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
“These are promoted as cigarette alternatives and are designed to mimic both the form as well as the physical sensation delivered by cigarettes,” Sotto said, according to Rappler. “Some claim in their marketing labels that they are effective smoking cessation tools as well as safer alternatives to smoking. Most of these health claims are yet to be proven by concrete scientific evidence.”
Despite the claims against the benefits of vaping, research from Europe shows that the devices are helping millions of smokers quit, reducing risk to themselves and those around them. A study commissioned by the European Union in 2014 found that roughly six million European smokers had quit cigarettes by using vaping devices.
President Rodrigo Duterte enacted a nationwide ban on public smoking through an executive order May 18, but it does not yet apply to vaping devices. It restricts public smoking to designated areas of roughly 12 square yards that must be at least 33 feet away from the entrance of buildings.
The executive order encourages citizens to form task forces to enforce the ban. More than a quarter of the population are active smokers.
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