The Department of Health urged President Rodrigo Duterte to veto Senate Bill 2239 or the proposed Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Act approved by the Senate on its third and final reading last December 2021.
In a statement, the DOH said, contrary to recent pronouncements by its advocates who are hailing it, the bill contains retrogressive provisions.
It undermines existing national laws, policies, and standards on regulation, distribution, advertising, promotions, sale, and use of vapor products and heated tobacco products.
These include: lowering the age of access from 21 to 18 years old, regulating the products as consumer products (via the DTI) instead of as health products (through the FDA), limiting graphic health warnings to just consumables (contrary to Republic Acts 11346 and 11467), enabling advertising and promotions through online means, and allowing the inclusion of flavorings and indoor use at points-of-sale as part of product demonstrations.
The Vape bill is contrary to public health goals and to President Duterte’s established position to protect Filipinos —especially the youth—from the harmful effects of smoke and emissions from tobacco products, vapor products, and heated tobacco products.
If passed, the Vape bill will also negate the gains of Republic Act No. 11223 (Universal Health Care Act) and other health laws.
It will place Filipino youths at undue risk of harmful and addictive substances associated with vape use like alcohol, marijuana, and potentially other illicit drugs.
The veto of the Vape bill will strengthen tobacco control in the country and enable President Duterte to leave an enviable and lasting legacy that will guarantee the health of generations of Filipinos.
An overwhelming majority of Filipinos also support such stringent measures: 74 percent support a strict smoke-free or vape-free policy in public spaces, 70 percent for a policy that restricts the accessibility of vapes at 21 years old and above, and 62 percent for a bill that will ban the availability and accessibility of flavors that appeal to the youth (Pulse Asia, 2021).
The DOH and its different stakeholders support the avowed policy of the administration to protect the health of the nation, especially the youth. Hence, our continued assertion for the veto of the Vape Bill.
“The DOH remains committed to protecting the administration’s legacy in tobacco control and reducing the burden of the disease caused by these harmful products. Veto the Vape Bill! No to tobacco use! No to vape use! Yes to smoke-free and vape-free environments!,” the DOH said.