At this writing, there are about 17 million Filipino smokers. Every day, 240 of them die from smoking-related diseases.
Cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health—we know that. Our government and various health advocates have stepped up on their anti-smoking crusades. In 2008, cigarette advertisements were banned in all forms of media. Last year, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority issued a metro-wide ban on smoking in public places—no cigarette smoke shall be seen or sniffed in public utility vehicles, bus and jeep terminals, loading and unloading bays, pedestrian lanes, overpasses, underpasses, elevators, recreational facilities, food preparation areas, schools, hospitals, and the 100-meter radius surrounding all of these.
Violators are to be fined P500 on their first offense. If you don’t have the cash, it’s eight hours of community service. The message is crystal clear: Go ahead and smoke, but we’ll be a raging bitch about it.
Then along came electronic cigarettes. They’re Sharpie looking devices that emit smoke—but not quite! It’s vapor. Hey, the mall lobby guard is just letting that man puff away in broad daylight! No secondhand smoke in this setting. The most you’d be fined for is secondhand vapor, which is much less vapor you’d inhale as when you’re at a dimsum joint. So it’s safe, right? We investigate.