THE Philippine National Police (PNP) has arrested 243 individuals for vaping in public places as of Sunday, November 24.
Of the total, 195 were arrested in Central Visayas, said PNP spokesperson Brigadier General Bernard Banac.
He said the arrests were made during 2,878 separate operations conducted nationwide since November 20, when police implemented President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to ban vaping and arrest those vaping in public.
"All 243 persons were released after documentation and the confiscation of the 318 pieces of vape gadgets and 666 pieces of vape juices," he added.
Duterte said on November 19 that he was going to ban the use and importation of electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices and products.
But even before he could issue an executive order to impose such ban, Duterte ordered law enforcers to arrest those vaping in public.
Police carried out his order the next day, but since there is no legal basis for the arrest, violators were released after their names were recorded in the police blotter and their devices confiscated.
Duterte ordered the ban following the confirmation of the first vape-related lung disease in the country. The case involved a 16-year-old girl in Central Visayas.
On Friday, Duterte defended his order, saying that there was no need to issue a new executive order.
"Nicotine is prohibited. You cannot use nicotine here, I will arrest you. There's a law regarding the use of nicotine. I do not have to issue an executive order,” Duterte had said. (SunStar Philippines)