Philippines to Ban E-Cigarettes After Lung Illness Case
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said he will stop the importation of electronic cigarettes and prohibit their use in public after a teenager contracted a lung illness tied to vaping.
“I will ban it, the use and the importation,” Duterte said at a televised briefing on Tuesday evening. “I am now ordering the law enforcement agencies to arrest anybody vaping in public.”
E-cigarettes contain “nicotine and other chemicals that we do not know,” he said.
The ban comes days after the Department of Health said a teenager in central Philippines who’s been vaping for six months and also smoking cigarettes was diagnosed with a lung injury. The case is likely to be the first known in Asia of the mystery illness that’s killed almost 40 people in the U.S. and afflicted nearly 2,000.
The outbreak has swiftly turned global regulatory attitudes against the nascent e-cigarette industry. Once thought of as a useful tool to help smokers quit, vaping is now banned by around 30 countries including India and Brazil.
Duterte’s pronouncement is unexpected, as Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said last month that a ban on e-cigarettes is unlikely but that they may be slapped with higher taxes. The Philippines was seen by e-cigarette makers like Juul Labs Inc. as one of the promising markets in Southeast Asia.
In a mobile phone message Tuesday, Dominguez asked lawmakers to pass a proposal seeking higher taxes on e-cigarettes pending Duterte’s executive order on the ban.
LT Group Inc., the holding company of billionaire Lucio Tan whose tobacco unit is the Philippine partner of Philip Morris International Inc., climbed for a second day, rising as much as 2.9% in Manila on Wednesday. JG Summit Holdings Inc., whose unit partnered with Juul to bring its products to the Philippines, fell as much as 1%.