MANILA -- The Department of Health (DOH) plans to regulate the use of vapes or e-cigarettes by registering them as drugs, an official said Monday.
"We want it [the vape liquid] to be registered as a drug, because it's definitely not food. It is potentially harmful. It is not a recreational substance that will not provide any harm. We want it registered as a drug and not any harmless product," DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo said in a press conference.
Domingo said vape liquids or juices could contain harmful chemicals and nicotine which may lead to cigarette-smoking and nicotine addiction.
"We also want to regulate the vaping delivery system, also the things which explode as what happened in the weekend...First, the device has to be registered and checked for safety," he added.
Currently, vapes, vaping devices and other nicotine-related devices must be registered in and are regulated by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).
"There are pending laws right now in the Congress and the Senate to make sure there's already a framework for regulating vapes, but DOH's stand is strongly for FDA to control and regulate the use of vapes," Domingo said.
He urged the parents not to allow their children to buy vapes online through unregulated sources because they do not provide appropriate product profile and information on the item's safety.
"Studies show that children who are vaping are most likely to pick up cigarette-smoking as a habit later in life. We want to stop it early, actually some countries have already banned vaping like Singapore and Finland," he said, adding that United Kingdom and Canada regulate vapes as products to be used only by people who want to stop smoking.
When asked if DOH plans to tax e-cigarettes and vapes, Domingo said they plan to include them on the list of products for "sin tax".
"We limit smoking to minors but 17-year olds like the victim over the weekend can access these vaping liquids, the juices, and they're buying online and they have to be regulated very similar to tobacco products," he added.
Meanwhile, World Health Organization Country Representative Gundo Weiler lauded DOH's effort to regulate vapes or e-cigarettes and related products which are not proven solutions to the tobacco epidemic.
"There's a push for e-cigarettes and vaping and they have promises but we as an evidence-based organization, we look into the data and the data is not yet so clear on its good and negative effects. The data is not also clear if below the line it could lead to lesser consumption of tobacco," he said.
Weiler added that the tobacco epidemic needs more serious intervention like the higher tobacco tax to fund the Universal Health Care. (PNA)