Inclusion of health warnings in e-cigarettes is hardly enforced, says BK3

NOVEMBER 20, 2019A vape or e-cigarette user emits smoke in public place in Manila. President Duterte said he would ban the use and importation of vaping or e-cigarettes and he order law enactment to arrest anybody vaping in public. Because it is toxic and the government has the power to issue measures to protect public health and public interest. EDWIN BACASMAS

A vape or e-cigarette user emits smoke in public place in Manila. (File photo from EDWIN BACASMAS)

MANILA, Philippines — A consumer group on Thursday sought stricter regulations in the vape industry to protect consumers and maximize government revenue from legal sales.

In a statement, Karry Sison, convener of Bantay Konsyumer, Kalsada, Kuryente (BK3), emphasized that despite the policies and regulations mandated by the Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act, the inclusion of health warnings on vape product packaging or the e-cigarettes is still “hardly implemented.”

READ: Vape packaging to have graphic health warnings

“Health warnings do not appear in most vape products, since these are usually smuggled into the country,” Sison said, as quoted in the statement.

“These products enter the market illegally. There are also no safeguards in place to ensure that their ingredients are safe and regulated,” she observed.

“Lack of proper oversight has allowed harmful substances to find their way into vape liquids, endangering the health of consumers,” she noted.

“Many users, particularly the youth, are unaware of the potential risks associated with vaping,” she added.

BK3 also cited a commissioned Pulse Asia survey conducted in the last quarter of 2023, which showed 57 percent of Filipinos are aware of the illegal sale of cigarette products in the country.

READ: Four-month tax take from tobacco products drops by P6.6B

The same results also revealed that consumers are drawn to buy these products due to their affordability, the group said.

“As we sit in the intersection of public health and economic prosperity, we must further endeavor towards active implementation of policies set in place to regulate the vaping industry,” Sison explained.

“Effective regulation of vape products can yield significant economic benefits, not just through taxes, but more importantly by safeguarding public health,” she said.

BK3 further said the country has so far lost P6.6 billion worth of excise taxes from the tobacco industry this year, based on data from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

“Illicit trade deprives the Philippine government of much needed tax revenue and cheats everyone – society, consumers, and legitimate businesses,” said Atty. Venus Gaticales, chief of BIR’s Excise Large Taxpayers Field Operations Division.

“Profits of legitimate businesses are compromised. Public health goals are undermined, and taxes due the government to help the economy are gravely affected,” she pointed out.