Solons: Vape Bill designed to prevent use by minors

Representative Sharon Garin

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers say they crafted the Vape Bill to specifically ban the use of flavor descriptors that appeal to young people and non-smokers.

Nueva Ecija 1st District Representative Estrellita Suansing, one of the authors of the vape bill, said she was aware of flavor concerns when she drafted the bill.

“The Vape Bill is very restrictive when it comes to flavors. We understand that flavors should not be used to target minors and non-smokers,” she said.

Consolidated Bill 9007 and Senate Bill 2239, also known as the Vape Bill, specifically ban the sale of e-cigarettes with flavor descriptors that appeal to young people.

Rep. Suansing said the goal of the bill was to reach out to adult Filipino smokers and convince them to use these less harmful alternatives to combustible cigarettes.

Rep. Sharon Garin, chair of the House Economic Affairs Committee and member of the House Conference’s bicameral committee, said the approved consolidated report strengthens regulations aimed at discouraging minors from using alternatives to cigarettes such as electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products.

According to the vice-president of the Chamber, Rodante Marcoleta, the Vape Bill offers many guarantees for the protection of youth.

“Of the 30 provisions in the whole bill, half are about prohibition, especially (for) minors who shouldn’t have access to these products,” he said.

Rep. Garin said he also supports existing regulations such as Republic Act No. 11467 and Executive Order No. 106.

“With the passage of the Vape Bill, we are consolidating the provisions of RA 11467 and Executive Order 106 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte and specifically prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes with flavors other than menthol and tobacco,” said said Representative Garin.

The Vape Bill provides another layer of protection for young people by banning the sale of e-cigarettes with flavor descriptors they are interested in, in addition to the flavor ban that exists today, she said.

President Duterte issued EO 106 in February 2020 to regulate vapor products, including banning the sale of e-cigarettes that use flavors appealing to young people. Most of the provisions of the decree have been modeled on the regulations relating to cigarettes.

Rep. Garin said the Vape Bill was passed by Congress because the country needed a comprehensive and special law to regulate vape products similar to cigarettes.

“We have ensured that all aspects of the regulation of these products are included in the bill, including manufacture, import, sale, distribution, use and advertising. We have left no stone unturned and have even included the provisions of EO 106 issued by the President,” she said.

She said the Vape Bill will further consolidate and strengthen the provisions of RA 11467 and EO 106 to give more teeth to these existing rules.

“Most importantly, we’ve made sure this bill has teeth for enforcement by including tough penalties for violators – something we currently don’t have under RA 11467 and EO 106,” the rep said. garin.

In addition to banning the sale of e-cigarettes with a high nicotine content (more than 65 mg/ml), the bill expands restrictions under EO 106 by prohibiting the use of vapor products in churches and government buildings. It also prohibits the use of advertising material appealing to minors.

“I don’t understand the misinformation being spread by some sectors that this bill overrides the ban on the use of flavors appealing to minors and other restrictions under EO 106. This is fake news. With the exception of the age requirement, the Vape Bill does not repeal the provisions of RA 11467 and EO 106. It actually strengthens it,” Rep. Garin said.

She said that contrary to misleading reports, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will continue to have exclusive jurisdiction and regulate vaping products with health claims under the Vape Bill, while the Department of Commerce and Industry will regulate vaping products without health claims.

The FDA will also be involved in drafting implementing rules and regulations and product standards for vapor-based products, she said.

“The Vape Bill does not repeal or remove the authority of the FDA to regulate vapor products with health claims. It just clarified and delineated that for vapor products without health claims, DTI will be the regulator,” Rep. Garin said.

The Senate and House of Representatives ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the Vape Bill in January 2022. Previously, both houses had overwhelmingly approved separate versions of the bill.

About 195 members of the House of Representatives voted to support the bill, while 19 senators voted yes for its approval.

A 2021 survey by ACORN Marketing and Research, Asia’s largest independent research network, shows that 94% of Filipino smokers agree that the government should enact policies to encourage adult smokers to switch to less harmful tobacco alternatives.

/MUF

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