The Philippines has set up a rather disturbingly named Smoke Free Task Force: the SFTF. Based out of a city police station, the SFTF’s job is now to tour public areas and swoop on any person flouting the new smoke/vape ban. Vaping has been banned in all public areas since 12th October – and on Day 1 the SFTF caught 16 transgressors.
First offenders can land themselves with a £7.50 fine or two hours community service. The second time around they will find themselves with a £37 fine or 8 hours community service. Third time? £75 and fourteen hours doing good for the community.
It’s an odd approach to tobacco harm reduction, not as severe as Singapore but still reliant on prohibition. Has Singapore’s all-out ban been effective? Absolutely. It has been a fundamental driver in the rapid growth of the black market and illegal smuggling operations.
The Singapore Health Sciences Authority has announced that 15,000 cases of smuggling and illegal sale has been recorded between 2014 and 2017, a 70% rise from the previous three-year figure. It has prompted some to demand that the nation accepts scientific evidence in the formulation of policy rather than this draconian approach. It’s a tough ask given the likes of Dr Chia Kee Seng lying: “Emerging tobacco products such as e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn cigarettes… are no less harmful than cigarettes.”
As has been mentioned on POTV before, many countries in the Far East have accepted the World Health Organisation’s corrupt position entirely. Places like Taiwan are still trying to force through ever increasing hurdles for vapers to jump. Now the ridiculous future takes further shape as the government seeks to ban the manufacture, import, sale and advertising of all vape products.
Thailand embodies the region’s confused thinking about vaping with an announcement that ecig use is to be banned from some (not all) beaches, along with cigarettes. While it is understandable that the authorities might want to clean up fag butts from the beaches (they remain among the most rubbish-covered in the world), it is difficult to understand the inclusion of vaping or the severity of a year in prison if caught.
Plus, there’s confusion because Thailand banned vaping entirely in 2014. They banned the sale and use of equipment and liquid across the country, yet it is still possible to find kit for sale – and see Thais vaping away, because it’s still legal for them to do so if they have a receipt “proving” they bought it before the ban was enacted (and thereby avoiding the five years prison sentence).
It’s confusing times for vape in the Far East.