Early this year, we hailed the bicameral approval of the consolidated version of House Bill 9007 and Senate Bill 2239 or the Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act (Vape Bill). Deservingly so because it is the first comprehensive bill to regulate vaping. We put forward the proposition that the Vape Bill may finally put an end to the smoking epidemic.
Fast forward to today, the enrolled bill has now been transmitted by Congress to the Office of the President. The Vape Bill, if it becomes law, will be a landmark legislation for all the benefits it would bring to the country.
Let’s start with the health aspect. The Vape Bill will surely cut down the number of smokers in the country, whether they be vaping as an alternative or as a means to wean themselves from cigarettes and completely quitting. This means that the government will spend less in treating people with smoking-related diseases. Simply put, health care costs will go down. The Vape Bill will also protect minors from using these products because it has many provisions restricting access to minors.
The Vape Bill also includes a ban on selling vape products with high nicotine content (more than 65 mg/ml), a ban on the use of flavor descriptors and a ban on using celebrities and social media influencers in advertising and promotional materials. There is a long list of benefits from a health standpoint that I could cite in support of this bill, but it is not enough for this column.
I also say that the Vape Bill is overall good for the country because it also touches on economic and social aspects. The Vape Bill is replete with penal provisions, which include fines and imprisonment, to deter would-be smugglers. On the consumer protection side, the Vape Bill provides that all products, before they are sold to the public, will be required to register with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) by submitting information demonstrating conformity to a set of technical standards for safety, consistency and quality.
On the economic front, the Vape Bill will generate billions of taxes in revenues for the government while at the same time providing additional jobs and income for the 2.7 million Filipino farmers and workers dependent on the industry.
If the Vape Bill is finally enacted into law, it will also indeed be very historic as the last comprehensive anti-smoking law was passed almost 20 years ago. We thus hope that the Vape Bill will soon be signed, or allowed to lapse, into law to finally put an end to the smoking epidemic.