The Nationwide Smoking Ban, Executive Order (EO) No. 26 s. 2017, went into effect today, July 23, 2017. You may have seen your usual smoking/vaping areas redesigned, relocated or even completely removed from your work, leisure, and living establishments even in advance of the effectivity of the Nationwide Smoking Ban.
TO CLARIFY: EO No. 26 does not ban vaping. It does not even cover vaping. Nowhere in the definition of "smoking" and "tobacco products" in Secs. 1(l) and 1(m) of EO 26 will one find the word "vaping," "electronic cigarettes/cigar," "personal vaporizer," "tobacco derivative," or any similar designation of, or reference to, what we popularly know as vaping products. "Tobacco products" are defined as "products made entirely or partly of tobacco leaf as raw material," while smoking refers to the "possession or control of a lit tobacco product regardless of whether the smoke is being actively inhaled or exhaled."
Neither does EO No. 26 ban smoking outright, in fact. The Nationwide Smoking Ban refers to specific acts related to smoking (see Sec. 3)--principally smoking in enclosed public spaces and sale to minors--and sets strict standards for creating "designated smoking areas" (or DSAs; see Sec. 4) where smoking will be permitted.
YOU MAY BE ASKING, THEN: "WHY AM I, A VAPER, BEING AFFECTED BY ALL THIS? BAKIT BIGLANG PINAGBABAWALAN NA RIN KAMI MAG-VAPE NG MGA SEKYU DAHIL DAW SA NATIONWIDE SMOKING BAN?"
SHORT ANSWER: It's a safer bet for the authorities in the establishments you frequent to just ban anything and everything that even looks like smoking, including vaping, for purposes of complying with EO 26. Why split hairs and risk getting fined or even imprisoned for permitting vaping where smoking can no longer be legally done?
Unless and until there is a definite issuance from the implementing government agency or a court ruling that the Nationwide Smoking Ban does not include vaping, "bawal na rin mag-vape sa _______" will increasingly be the new normal.
True, Sec. Rosell-Ubial and ASec. Tayag of the DOH have said that EO No. 26 will not cover vaping until the DOH determines that it should, but those are mere statements given in interviews. Besides, they also clarified that private establishments are absolutely free to ban vaping within their premises, if they wish.
Their property, their rules. It's that simple.
So, anung pwede nating gawin ngayong may Nationwide Smoking Ban?
1) Ask guards if there's a new smoking area. If you're lucky, there will be a new one. It'll probably be smaller and less conveniently located than before, but it's better than nothing. Don't take one "no" as absolute, either. Ask a few guards or even other officers higher up. Baka hindi pa cascaded ang bagong policy.
2) If there really is no smoking area at this time, ask the administrator of the establishment in question if they're planning to have one in the future. Walang masama mag-tanong. Chances are, they're studying EO No. 26 in an effort to identify or even set up a smoking area compliant with the order. It's neither simple nor cheap due to the requirements.
3) If there isn't even a plan for a new smoking area, petition for it. Write the admin, and have it signed by yourself and similarly interested co-workers/residents. Walang masama humiling. Just remember that EO 26 does not require establishments to set up smoking areas. That's why you need to ask for one. You can be more specific and ask for a vaping-only area! Cite the fact that the strict requirements for DSAs in EO 26 need not be observed since a vaping-only area wouldn't even be a smoking area. Try it. You might be surprised.
4) Wherever you are allowed to vape, vape discreetly and sensibly. Consider it an investment in a future where vaping is more favorably treated instead of being lumped together with smoking. Mabango nga ang vapor kumpara sa usok, pero kung sobra naman ang kapal pwede pa rin itong maka-bastos sa mga non-smokers/vapers na nakakasalamuha natin sa mga pampublikong lugar. Rather than explaining how vaping is not the same as smoking, let's show the difference in our actions and in how our habit is seen and felt in public.
5) Finally, choose mid to high nic liquids. Smoking areas will become increasingly rare and small, which means that those that are available will be more packed than before. If you're going to have less and less opportunities to vape, you might as well get more nic for every puff that you do manage to enjoy. This is how you can vape less intensely and less frequently and yet still be satisfied. This also plays in to our recommendation of more discreet, sensible vaping. Go mid to high nic and you won't have as much need for those long, cloudy sessions you've grown accustomed to.
Do you have your stories or tips on how to adjust to the Nationwide Smoking Ban? Just comment them. Let's stay constructive, please.