MANILA, Philippines – As the National No-Smoking Month is observed this June, several medical groups and the Department of Health (DOH) have renewed their call for President Duterte to veto the Vape Bill before his term officially ends on June 30.
Among the provisions of the Vape Bill is the lowering of the age of access to vape and e-cigarette products from 21 to 18.
Philippine Pediatric Society Tobacco Control Advocacy Group Chair Dr. Rizalina Gonzalez said that lowering the age limit of who can access vape products is a “harmful introduction to our teens and young adults”, and that the youth should be kept away from the “non-essential hazardous habit” as they will have a harder time quitting nicotine addiction.
“It is not harm reduction but a dangerous nicotine trap. The risk taking behavior in this age group coupled with their mental health problems will put more of our Filipino children at risk,” Gonzalez said.
Vape supporters and retailers have advocated for the bill to be passed into law, claiming that it would generate additional taxes for the government, and that e-cigarettes provide an alternative for smokers who want to quit.
On the other hand, Philippine Medical Association President Dr. Minerva Calimag said: “Long-term use of adulterated and even unadulterated electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems produce aerosols that increase risk of lung cancer and chronic lung ailments,” during a press briefing on June 8.
Another provision strongly questioned and objected by the DOH, medical groups, and Senator Pia Cayetano is the transfer of authority for vape products’ regulation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Earlier this year, Cayetano questioned why the DTI would be given the jurisdiction over e-cigarettes when the department “has nothing to do with the healthcare of the people.”
The Child Rights Network (CRN) called on Congress to transmit the consolidated House Bill 9007 and Senate Bill 2239 to Malacañang immediately so President Duterte would have ample time to review or veto the Vape Bill, preventing it to lapse into law by default.
“We call on Congress to immediately transmit the bill. Almost half a year has passed since its ratification. Let the president exercise his authority, even in his last days in power,” CRN convenor Romeo Dongeto said.
“And once the Vape Bill reaches your desk, Mr. President, on behalf of child rights advocates in the country, we implore you: veto this toxic legislation that has been the product of the tobacco industry’s moneyed lobbying efforts,” Dongeto added.