President Rodrigo Duterte has become suddenly obsessed with the alleged evils of vaping, so much so that yesterday he joked he would summarily execute the inventor of e-cigarettes — an insensitive gag considering all the, well, summary executions linked to his bloody drug war.
In a speech delivered during a government project launch in Taguig City, Duterte said in Filipino and English, “I don’t know the demon who invented that. I’m going to order a manhunt to look for him; I’m going to order an extra-judicial killing against that silly person.”
As his audience laughed, Duterte continued, “It’s true. When he comes here, where’s the cop? [I’ll tell him] ‘Kill that, that son of a b***h.'”
It’s unclear whether Duterte actually has any idea who invented e-cigarettes, so here goes: the inventor of the modern e-cigarette is a Chinese former pharmacist named Hon Lik. According to a profile in the Guardian, he invented the device to help him kick his own cigarette habit (though it apparently didn’t work out so hot, and he now smokes both conventional cigarettes and their electronic counterpart).
Duterte’s comment came after he unexpectedly declared a nationwide ban on vaping — albeit one with no legal basis, as it was not accompanied by an official executive order. But that hasn’t stopped the Philippine National Police (PNP) from enforcing Duterte’s unilateral decree, with the force resorting to an older executive order regarding conventional cigarettes for legal authority.
In a possible acknowledgment of the lack of an airtight legal basis, however, the police force’s spokesman said yesterday that they would only warn, not jail, the so-called offenders.
Meanwhile, Duterte said yesterday that he has no problem with regular cigarettes, adding in a particularly impressive feat of circular logic that cigarettes can’t be banned, because cigarettes are allowed.
“Cigarettes are allowed. Why can’t we ban cigarettes? Why, because we allow its manufacture. And maybe the importation of tobacco. We allow it then we tax them,” he said, visibly peeved.
“But vaping has nicotine,” he continued, seemingly unbothered by the presence of the very same addictive chemical in traditional cigarettes. “These people are such idiots; it has nicotine and they would even add flavoring to it, which I don’t know what it really is.”
“Some people say, ‘What’s wrong with vaping? Why is it now illegal?’ Idiots, it has nicotine and there are chemicals there and you don’t know what they really are,” he said.
Ah, e-cigarettes have chemicals. Well, that makes sense. (But maybe nobody should tell the president that traditional cigarettes release more than 7,000 chemicals when burned. He’s got enough to worry about.)