THE vape bill does not strike any balance at all, contrary to what certain lawmakers would like to make it appear, the Child Rights Network (CRN) said as it objected to House Deputy Speaker Weslie “Wes” Gatchalian’s latest defense of the consolidated House Bill 9007 and Senate Bill 2239, otherwise known as the Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Bill.
“What the esteemed deputy speaker seeks to obfuscate is the fact that the vape bill essentially relaxes regulations on the sale, distribution, use and promotion of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) or e-cigarettes and vaporized nicotine products (VNPs), tilting the balance toward the profit-seeking tobacco industry at the expense of minors,” CRN convenor Romeo Dongeto said in a statement. CRN is the largest alliance of organizations and agencies pushing for children’s rights legislation in the Philippines.
Gatchalian earlier argued that the vape bill, with its strict provisions, provides “a good balance between protecting minors and giving adult smokers a chance to leave their deadly habit behind.”
He added that the bill “strengthens the provisions of Republic Act 11467, which imposes taxes on vapes and heated tobacco products, and Executive Order 106 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte that prohibits unregistered or tampered vapes and heated tobacco products.”
“Mentioning the words ‘strengthen’ and ‘president’ in one sentence is a weak attempt at pandering to President Duterte, who has yet to see the bill in question,” Dongeto said.
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He pointed out that Gatchalian is “toeing the tobacco industry line of tackling the issue at hand primarily as an industry regulation issue, and not as a health issue.”
“In effect, the esteemed lawmaker is invalidating the voluminous expert opinion that runs counter to the vape bill, just because the opposition centers on health,” Dongeto said.
He stressed that the vape bill, as a health issue, “does not strike any balance,” considering that the consolidated bill lowers the minimum age of access to e-cigarettes from 21 to 18. This sets aside the proposal of several health experts to peg access to those who are 21 years old, which is the existing age restriction based on Republic Act 11467.
Dongeto pointed out that despite putting several restrictions on flavor descriptors for ENDS and VNPs, the consolidated bill gives a free pass to producers to use addictive flavors that attract the younger generation. It even allows the online sale of e-cigarettes.
The World Health Organization and the Department of Health cautioned the public regarding harmful chemicals in ENDs and VNPs such as nicotine, ultra-fine particles, carcinogens, heavy metals and volatile organic compounds. Results generated from peer-reviewed studies show that e-cigarette juices contain high levels of addictive nicotine, which can result in acute, or even fatal, poisoning through ingestion and other means.
Dongeto called on President Duterte to veto the vape bill and “let the welfare of children weigh heavier than the influence of big tobacco firms.”