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Groups urge Duterte to veto vape bill

/ 09:16 PM March 10, 2022

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — Groups opposed to the sale of vape products to minors have appealed to President Duterte to veto Senate Bill 2239 or the Vape Bill of 2022 already approved by the Senate in December last year.

More than 5,000 people have  signed the petition opposing the  bill and appealing to the President to veto it, according to the Davao City-based  Parents Against Vape (PAV), an alliance of parents, teachers, public health experts, and community groups based in Davao and Samal Island.

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“As parents, we are alarmed by the provisions of the bill. The Vape Bill 2022 lowers the age of (minors allowed) access (to vapes),” said the group in their letter signed by Imelda Gocotano, PAV convenor.  “It allows flavors very attractive to children and youth and makes them available online. It also  allows the use of e-cigarettes in public places and has taken away its regulation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

Many parents don’t realize yet the adverse effects of vapes on their children, she added.

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“Parents are not aware vapes are harmful to their kids, that’s why they allow them,” Gocotano said during the online press briefing on Tuesday, March 8.

Once parents were informed on the harmful effects of vapes, she said she was sure they would  support the PAV’s position.

Gocotano appealed to President Duterte to back the strict regulation of vape products.

“We have enough laws and policies that strictly regulate these harmful products which you issued.,” she said. “Thus, we humbly ask you, Mr. President, to protect your legacy, maintain these laws and policies, and allow their full implementation. Mr. President, please veto the Vape Bill 2022 for the full protection of our children and the youth,” the PAV statement said.

Lawyer Benedict Nisperos of HealthJustice Philippines called the vape bill a “profit-oriented, industry-sponsored bill,” masquerading as a public health policy.

“We already have a comprehensive and strict regulatory regime for vapes as embodied in Republic Act Nos. 11346 and 11467 and Executive Order No. 106 signed by [Duterte]. The Vape Bill 2022 reverses the policy of the Duterte administration against these addictive and toxic products,” Nisperos said.

He said the vape bill “reversed” the key policies that ensured kids were protected from these harmful and toxic products.

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Nisperos cited that the age of access had been changed from 21 years old to 18 years old when higher age restriction had been global best practice.

The bill also takes away the regulatory power for vapes from the FDA and put it in the exclusive hands of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) when these toxic products should be under the  FDA’s jurisdiction.

Dr. Edgardo Ulysses Dorotheo, executive director of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, also refuted claims that vapes or electronic nicotine delivery devices could help smokers quit.

“The reality is that there are many smokers who – when they try to quit smoking and use e-cigarettes – become dual users,” Dorotheo said.

In a separate statement, Lawyer Sophia San Luis, executive director of ImagineLaw, said the bill would undo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 26 which established smoke-free environments in 2017.

The law group also recalled that  the President also declared that “public health takes precedence over any commercial and business interest.”

“The Vape Bill directly contradicts the President’s strong stance against vaping, e-cigarette use, and addictive substances,” San Luis said.

She urged Duterte to maintain his strong stance against vapes and e-cigarettes and veto the legislation.

“If President Duterte signs the Vape Bill into law, it will undo his years of work in protecting the youth and the public from the harms of smoking, vapes, e-cigarettes, and addiction,” San Luis said.

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TAGS: Rodrigo Duterte, vape, vape bill
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