MANILA - Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Wednesday expressed his full support for President Rodrigo Duterte's order to ban vaping and its products.
"I fully support the President's decision to ban this but again I think it would be prudent to wait until the EO (Executive Order) is actually issued and let's look at the content of the EO," Duque said on ANC's Dateline Philippines.
Duterte on Tuesday announced his plan to ban vaping and the importation of such devices. Duterte said those who would violate his order would be arrested.
"It is an enforcement issue so whoever violates will have to be dealt with in accordance with a set of punitive or corrective measures that hopefully would be included in the executive order," Duque said.
Duque said there are more than 2,000 cases of e-cigarettes and vaping-associated lung injuries in the United States, with 42 deaths.
"We don't have to wait until what has been happening in the US happens here," he said.
The Philippines earlier confirmed its first reported case of an illness related to vaping or the use of e-cigarettes, one involving a teenage girl.
However, Duque stressed that they could not categorize it as a confirmed case yet because certain tests were not done.
"So it's not definitive but we are following-up and have instructed the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine to get in touch with the hospital as well as the patient to pursue the case and see," he said.
The Department of Health earlier called for an outright ban on vaping as it warned Filipinos that e-cigarettes are not a proven nicotine replacement therapy and can cause lung illness.
"As secretary of health, I feel this is my duty as well to remind the public that they should not put at risk the health of people so I admonish smokers or those who continue to vape to really think about it and the best recourse is to quit it altogether," he said.
Around 1 million Filipinos use e-cigarettes, according to the DOH.