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Doctors say vape bill is best hope to end smoking epidemic

By: - Contributor / @inquirerdotnet
03:13 PM May 01, 2022
Dr. Fernando Fernandez

Dr. Fernando Fernandez, Secretary General of the Asia Pacific Dental Federation

MANILA, Philippines — More doctors have rallied support for the passage of the final version of the vape bill a week after its contents have been publicly revealed, noting the stricter final version will protect youth better, provide adult smokers with less harmful alternatives and is “our best hope to end the smoking epidemic.”

Dr. Fernando Fernandez, Secretary General of the Asia Pacific Dental Federation, Dr. Telesforo Gana, Past President of the Philippine Urological Association and Dr. Assunta Mendoza, former head of the Department of Anesthesiology of the Manila Medical Center are one in expressing their support for the final version of the Vape Bill, which they consider as “way better than what we initially had hoped for.”

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“It is very comprehensive and restrictive. More restrictive than the tobacco law. The vape bill fulfills the promise of President Duterte to ban high nicotine e-cigarettes and illegal vape products that target our youth. We don’ have this kind of ban existing today under RA 11467,” Dr. Fernandez said, adding that he “strongly support and recommend the passage of this important public health measure.”

Republic Act 11467, which increased the excise taxes on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs), only provides for a one paragraph provision regulating vapor products particularly on the ban on use of flavors that appeal to minors as well as age restrictions.

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“From my experience, we need to have a comprehensive law that will regulate these vapor products to fully protect our youth while at the same time encourage our 16 million Filipino smokers to kick the habit. How can a one paragraph provision of RA 11467 regulate all aspects of vaping and vape products?” said Dr. Fernandez, who is also the past president of the Philippine Dental Association and the Philippine College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.

He said this is why “we need the vape bill because it is a very detailed one covering all aspects of the product including how it is marketed and sold as well as rules on product standards and registration.”

Dr. Gana, a former smoker who have reviewed the final version of the bill, said, “I have always followed the developments on the vape bill because I know it will benefit people like me who were ones a long-time smoker and was able to successfully quit smoking and shifted to less harmful products like vape and heated tobacco products. Even if I am not a lawyer, it is easy to see that the final version of the vape bill is better than RA 11467 because it adequately protects our youth by providing several provisions that will ban the use of these products to minors including a ban on using flavor descriptors that appeal to minors — in addition to the flavor ban under RA 11467. Many or most of the provisions of the vape bill are not contained in RA 11467.”

The vape bill contains penal provisions to penalize violators of its provisions, which RA 11467 lacks.

Citing his experience, Dr. Gana said, “There were several instances that I almost bought a fake product had I not noticed that the same did not contain the tax stamp required by the BIR. I think there is a low level of compliance because RA 11467 do not provide for penalties particularly for those caught selling flavored vape products.”

Dr. Gana, who is also the past chairman of the Philippine Board of Urology said he was hoping that the vape bill “will address this legal loophole to encourage 100% compliance by manufacturers and retailers in order to protect our youth.”

The Senate and Congress overwhelmingly approved the Vape Bill last January 26, 2022 after three years of deliberations. It is viewed by the scientific and medical community including many other sectors like health, business and consumers as a landmark public health legislation.

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Dra. Mendoza stressed that, “No one can argue with science and the science on vape products show that they are significantly less harmful than cigarettes. There is no doubt that the passage of the vape bill will benefit the health of our 16 million Filipino smokers and protect our youth. This is our best hope to end the smoking epidemic.”

Vaping is found to be 95 percent less harmful than smoking according to public health regulators around the world including Public Health England and the New Zealand Department of Health. Many progressive countries like Canada and Switzerland have also adopted a comprehensive regulation for vape products to provide adult smokers with less harmful alternatives to cigarettes.

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TAGS: Health, Smoking, vape bill
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