Solons: Vape Bill designed to prevent use by minors
MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers said they designed the Vape Bill to specifically prohibit the use of flavor descriptors that appeal to the youth and non-smokers.
Nueva Ecija 1st District Rep. Estrellita Suansing, one of the authors of the Vape Bill, said they are cognizant of the concerns related to flavors when they drafted the bill.
“The Vape Bill is very restrictive when it comes to flavors. We understand that flavors should not be used to target minors and non-smokers,” she said.
The consolidated House Bill 9007 and Senate Bill 2239, also known as the Vape Bill, particularly bans the sale of e-cigarettes with flavor descriptors that appeal to the youth.
Rep. Suansing said the goal of the bill is to reach adult Filipino smokers and convince them to use these less harmful alternatives to combustible cigarettes.
Rep. Sharon Garin, chairperson of the House Committee for Economic Affairs and a member of the House bicameral conference committee, said the approved consolidated report strengthens regulations to discourage minors from using cigarette alternatives such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.
According to House Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, the Vape Bill has ample safeguards for youth protection.
“Out of the 30 provisions of the entire bill, half of it is for prohibition, especially (for) minors who should not be given access to these products,” he said.
Rep. Garin said it also supports existing regulations such as Republic Act No. 11467 and Executive Order No. 106.
“With the passage of the Vape Bill, we are solidifying the provisions of RA 11467 and Executive Order 106 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte and in particular banning the sale of e-cigarettes with flavors other than menthol and tobacco,” Rep. Garin said.
The Vape Bill provides another layer of protection for the youth by prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes with flavor descriptors that appeal to them, in addition to the flavor ban that exists today, she said.
President Duterte issued EO 106 in February 2020 to provide regulation for vapor products including banning the sale of e-cigarettes that use flavors that are appealing to the youth. Most of the provisions of the executive order were patterned with the regulation for cigarette products.
Rep. Garin said the Vape Bill was passed by Congress because the country needs a comprehensive and special law to regulate vapor products similar to the ones for cigarette products.
“We made sure that every aspect of regulation for these products were included in the bill including the manufacture, importation, sale, distribution, use and advertising. We did not leave any stone unturned and even included the provisions under EO 106 issued by the President,” she said.
She said the Vape Bill will consolidate and further solidify the provisions of RA 11467 and EO 106 to provide more teeth to these existing rules.
“More importantly, we made sure that this bill has teeth for enforcement by including severe penalties for violators thereof – something that we don’t have at present under RA 11467 and EO 106,” Rep. Garin said.
Aside from banning the sale of high nicotine e-cigarettes (above 65mg/ml), the bill expands the restrictions under EO 106 by prohibiting the use of vapor products in churches and government buildings. It also bans the use of advertising materials that are attractive to minors.
“I don’t understand the misinformation being spread by some sectors that this bill overturns the ban on the use of flavors that appeal to minors and other restrictions under EO 106. This is fake news. Except for the age requirement, the Vape Bill does not repeal the provisions of RA 11467 and EO 106. It actually strengthens it,” Rep. Garin said.
She said contrary to misleading reports, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will continue to have exclusive jurisdiction and regulate vapor products with health claims under the Vape Bill, while the Department of Trade and Industry will regulate vapor products without health claims.
The FDA will also participate in the drafting of the implementing rules and regulations and product standards for vapor products, she said.
“The Vape Bill does not repeal or take away the jurisdiction of the FDA to regulate vapor products with health claims. It merely provided clarity and delineation that for vapor products without health claims, it will be the DTI who will be the regulatory body,” Rep. Garin said.
The Senate and the House of Representatives ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the Vape Bill in January 2022. Prior to this, both chambers overwhelmingly approved the separate versions of the bill.
About 195 members of the House of Representatives voted to support the bill, while 19 senators voted yes for its approval.
A 2021 survey by ACORN Marketing and Research, the largest independent Asian research network, shows that 94 percent of Filipino smokers agree that the government should enact policies to encourage adult smokers to switch to less harmful tobacco alternatives.
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