House ratifies bill regulating vape products

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

January 26, 2022, 6:15 pm

MANILA – The House of Representatives on Wednesday ratified the bicameral conference committee report on a bill that would regulate the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use, and communication of vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products, as well as novel tobacco products.

During the plenary session, the chamber approved the final version that reconciles the disagreeing provisions of House Bill 9007 and Senate Bill 2239.

House Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez said the measure aims to offer an alternative for Filipinos who want to quit smoking.

With the enactment of the bill into law, posts, messages, or images by manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers that encourage the purchase and use of vape products would be prohibited.

The bill mandates the Department of Health (DOH) to prescribe guidelines on the implementation of smoking and vaping restriction awareness campaigns.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), meanwhile, would consult with the Food and Drug Administration in setting technical standards for the safety, consistency, and quality of vape products.

Manufacturers, distributors, importers, and sellers would then be given an 18-month transitory period from the issuance of the implementing rules and regulations to comply with the requirements of the measure.

This would include the registration of the vape products with the DTI.

The bill provides protection to minors from accessing vape products by setting the minimum allowable age for the purchase, sale, and use of such products to 18 years old.

The DOH earlier expressed strong opposition to the bill, as it is retrogressive and contains several provisions that contradict public health goals and international standards and undermines the country's progress in tobacco control, according to a DOH news release on Sunday.

It said lowering the age of access to vapor products from 21 to 18 years old, allowing flavorings, and permitting advertising and sponsorship strategies would expose the youth to harmful and addictive substances by making vapor products enticing and easily accessible.

The DOH maintains that vape products are harmful and not risk-free and should be regulated as health products due to their toxic substances and effects.

Vape liquids and its emission contain chemicals such as nicotine, propylene glycol, carbonyls, and carbon monoxide that are either addictive, toxic or can cause cancer.

Additionally, studies have shown vape use increases the risk of using other known addictive substances such as cigarette, alcohol, and even marijuana.

There is also growing evidence of the harmful effects of using vapes, both to the user and those exposed to its emissions, including its potential to cause cardiovascular diseases, respiratory problems, and explosion injuries.

The agency cited the Global Youth Tobacco Survey, which showed that the prevalence of using electronic cigarettes is increasing among the Filipino youth.

Data showed a 110-percent increase in vape use in just four years -- from 11.7 percent in 2015 to 24.6 percent in 2019.

A recent study conducted by the Philippine Pediatric Society and the Department of Education also showed that the age of initiation of using electronic cigarettes starts at 10 to 15 years old.

The DOH added that this is concerning because several studies noted that the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which is involved in executive and decision-making functions, continues to mature until about the age of 25.

This bill predisposes adolescents and young adults to be more susceptible in initiating smoking and subsequent nicotine addiction.

An overwhelming majority of Filipinos support stringent measures in protecting themselves from the harms of using and exposure to electronic cigarettes, according to a Pulse Asia Survey conducted from Sept. 6 to 11, 2021. (PNA)