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Bill regulating vapes, heated tobacco products endorsed for Senate plenary approval

/ 05:18 PM May 26, 2021
Bill regulating vapes, heated tobacco products endorsed for Senate plenary approval

FILE PHOTO: In this October 18, 2019 file photo, a man blows a puff of smoke as he vapes with an electronic cigarette. (AP FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — A proposed legislation that would regulate the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use, and consumption of vapor and heated tobacco products has reached the Senate plenary for deliberations.

This, as Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Wednesday endorsed for plenary approval Senate Bill No. 2239.

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“Let me begin by reciting the fundamental truths about smoking. It is bad. It is harmful. It is dangerous. It kills. Long before George Floyd uttered it, ‘I can’t breathe’ has been the dying mantra of millions whose lives were cut short one lungful inhalation of smoke at a time,” Recto said in his sponsorship speech.

“I have to reiterate these because this verdict has long been accepted and I am not here to re-litigate these unassailable facts,” he added.

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The government, he further pointed out, had put up “an entire infrastructure” of disincentives to dissuade people from consuming tobacco, including high taxes, a ban on public smoking as well as the use of  “fear factor” by using graphic images on cigarette packs.

Under the bill, Recto said vaporized nicotine products (VNP) are not allowed to be sold to minors. He, however, acknowledged that some of his fellow senators would like to raise the age limit.

Plenary discussions on this matter, Recto said, are welcome.

The proposed measure also tasks retailers to verify the age of the buyers, including the presentation of a valid ID at point-of-sale.

“To be ‘carded’ is the rule,” Recto said.

This prohibition, he added, covers products being sold online. “Age verification is a must upon receipt of delivery.”

“You cannot just ‘Grab’ and go,” the senator stressed.

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“Furthermore, not just any bored millennial can sell it,” he said.

According to Recto, retailers or distributors both for physical or online stores must be registered with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

For sellers, the DTI is mandated to set product standards, which should be met within a limited period of time.

“This bill empowers regulators to take down websites of unethical and illegal sellers,” Recto also said.

It also bans the sale and distribution of VNPs within 100 meters from “any point of the perimeter of” a school, playground, or other facilities frequented particularly by minors.

“Use of VNPs is also restricted. It is specifically prohibited in schools, hospitals, government offices, and facilities intended particularly for minors,” Recto continued.

“Use in indoor public spaces shall only be allowed in designated vaping areas or in point-of-sale establishments for purposes of conducting product demonstration,” he added.

Meanwhile, the bill requires establishments offering, selling, or distributing VNPs to bear “point-of-sale signage which states that sale to or by persons below 18 years old is illegal.”

“As to content, the retail or use of nicotine shots or concentrates is strictly prohibited,” he added.

VNPs, he further said, should also carry a graphic health warning and textual health warning similar to cigarette packs.

KGA

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TAGS: E-cigarette, heated tobacco products, Ralph Recto, Senate, Senate Bill No. 2239., vape, vapor products, vaporized nicotine products
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