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DOH to work on regulating e-cigarettes, alcohol products

/ 04:34 PM June 05, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Cigarette alternatives such as electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes should be regulated “no differently” than tobacco products, the Department of Health said Wednesday.

The health department said this after Congress approved the bill seeking to increase the excise tax on tobacco products. Among the amendments of the bill passed in the Senate is the imposition of tax on heated tobacco and vapor products, otherwise known as e-cigarettes.

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READ: Congress OKs higher tax on tobacco

“The Department of Health reiterates its position that e-cigarettes should be treated and regulated no differently than other tobacco products until it is proven that e-cigarettes are absolutely safe for consumption,” the DOH said in a statement.

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Health Secretary Francisco Duque said there is no scientific proof to support that e-cigarettes are harmless.

“I’m aware of the claims that e-cigarettes contain fewer toxic chemicals and are therefore good alternatives to smoking. There is no scientific proof yet that can say e-cigarettes are completely harmless,” Duque said.

“For the DOH, there is absolutely no acceptable level of harm, especially when Filipino lives are put to risk,” he added.

READ: DOH, DOF welcome additional tax on vape, e-cigarettes

Duque added that the health department will be working on regulating other “sin” products such as e-cigarettes and alcohol.

“Alcohol and cigarettes are very harmful to health. We must remember that the harmful use of these products can also affect a community,” Duque said.

“The DOH will continue to work towards progressive policies that uphold the health and well-being of the Filipino people,” he added.

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The health department also lauded the Senate and the House approval of the bill, which seeks to decrease the number of cigarette smokers in the country and fund the Universal Health Care (UHC) program.

READ: DOH: Tobacco tax hike bill to help fund universal healthcare law

Duque, who has been vocal in pushing for the measure together with the Department of Finance (DOF), said the bill would help encourage Filipinos to live a healthier lifestyle.

“We are one step closer to enacting this bill that seeks higher tobacco excise taxes into law. On behalf of the Department of Health, I extend my gratitude to the Department of Finance led by Secretary Sonny Dominguez and our legislators at both houses of Congress for fighting with us to protect the health of every Juan and Juana,” Duque said.

“This is a testament to how collective action can result into policies for the greater good,” he added.

Under the bill, the excise tax on cigarettes is set to increase to P45 per pack in 2020, P50 in 2021, P55 in 2021, and P60 in 2023, with five percent annual increases thereafter. (Editor: Eden Estopace)

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