DOH to continue campaign vs vaping |…


Mayen Jaymalin – The Philippine Star

July 28, 2022 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Despite the new law regulating vaporized nicotine products, the Department of Health (DOH) is not stopping its campaign against the use of e-cigarettes.

The DOH will also look into other possible anti-smoking measures to be recommended before Congress, according to the agency’s officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Both chambers of the 18th Congress overwhelmingly passed the vape bill, which places e-cigarettes under the supervision of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) rather than the Food and Drug Administration under the DOH. Supporters of the law stress that shifting to vaporizers is a safe way for smokers to quit the habit and will save their lives.

“It’s unfortunate that it has lapsed into law, but we at the DOH continue to convey to our fellow Filipinos the harmful effects of vape and tobacco products to our health,” Vergeire said in Filipino and English during the post-State of the Nation Address economic briefing last Tuesday.

At the Laging Handa public briefing yesterday, Philippine Medical Association (PMA) past president Dr. Benito Atienza spoke against the vape bill, which lapsed into law last Monday after President Marcos failed to act on it.

“That vape bill is anti-health, anti-children and anti-adolescent,” Atienza said, as he noted that the new law allows marketing or more flavors for vape products and lowered the age of those allowed to use it.

Contrary to the law, the regulation of vape should be with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and not the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), according to the former PMA president.

He said health professionals have long been campaigning against vape, which is why they were saddened by the lapsing of the bill into law.

He added that instead of the vape law, other pending measures limiting the use of vape should have been passed by Congress.

“The senators and congressmen don’t understand what are stated in the vape bill,” Atienza said.

Former Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) president Dr. Maricar Limpin said they would go to the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the vape law.

“I think it can be expected that we will actually question the legality. On top of this, we will also question the constitutionality of the law,” Limpin said in a television interview, as she stressed that there are sufficient grounds to stop the law’s implementation.

Higher taxes

With the vape bill lapsing into law, House of Representatives’ committee on ways and means chairman Joey Salceda yesterday said he is poised to seek higher taxes for vape products.

Salceda pointed out that he supported the vape bill because of the taxes that the government could get from vape products.

With the measure lapsing into law, however, Salceda noted that he is “very tempted to increase the tax.”

“That’s my official position because anything that you ingest should be subject to the FDA. It’s not a screw and if it’s a screw, then it would be (the DTI’s),” he said.

Under the measure, the supervision of vape products have been transferred from the FDA to the DTI.

Salceda underscored that the “optimal tax for sin tax is zero.”

“That’s because you spend more in health than the tax you collect so the optimal tax (paid) for sin tax is zero. This means it is better if it was not invented. I am speaking from by own conviction,” he added.

Child rights

Meanwhile, child rights organizations have urged lawmakers to scrap the recently enacted vape law.

The Child Rights Network (CRN) urged lawmakers to “listen to the voice of reason,” noting that even the DOH and the Department of Education have expressed opposition to the measure.

“We call on our legislators and our President to act in haste, while there is still time, and ensure that this toxic law will not be able to bare its fangs and harm generations of Filipino children and youth,” CRN convenor Romeo Dongeto said.

The CRN scored those behind the bill for supposedly using the presidential transition to push for its passage.

Dongeto noted that despite being ratified last Jan. 31, Congress only transmitted the consolidated bill to Malacañang on June 24, days before the end of the term of former president Rodrigo Duterte.

The late transmittal, he said, resulted in the bill lapsing into law without the benefit of executive review.

The CRN stressed that the new law, contrary to claims of those supporting its passage, is a “toxic legislation masquerading as a trade regulation law.”

“Despite the tobacco industry’s reasoning that the vape law will strengthen regulations to discourage minors from using cigarette alternatives, the new law essentially lowered the minimum age of access to e-cigarettes from age 21 to 18, setting aside the proposal of several health experts to maintain 21 years old, which is the existing age restriction based on Republic Act 11467,” Dongeto said.

He added that the restrictions on flavor descriptors set in the new law “were only inserted to blur the fact that the legislation gives a free pass to producers to use addictive flavors that attract use among the younger generation, and even allows the online sale of e-cigarettes.” – Sheila Crisostomo, Janvic Mateo

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