A group of healthcare professionals and professors has asked President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to sign the controversial vape bill into law because they believe it will help reduce the health risks associated with smoking.
The bill provides regulations on the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use, and communication of vape products and novel tobacco products.
It will also transfer the regulatory powers over the products from the Food and Drug Administration to the Department of Trade and Industry.
“We believe that it could help mitigate the serious health risks and possibly save the lives of more than 16 million current Filipino smokers who are at very high risk [of] getting sick and dying due to smoking-related complications,” the signatories said in a letter addressed to the President through Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez on July 8.
“We believe the passage of the vape bill will be a historic milestone that will become part of your administration’s legacy,” they added.
Both the Department of Health and the Department of Education have opposed the bill, arguing this will undermine existing national laws, policies, and standards on regulation, distribution, and use of vapor products and heated tobacco products.
The DOH also warned that passing such a legislation would expose Filipino youths to an “undue risk of harmful and addictive substances associated with vape use like alcohol, marijuana, and potentially other illicit drugs.”
The group of doctors and professors, however, said vaping can be a viable alternative to smoking.
“While there is no debate that vaping is not completely safe and still contains harmful chemicals, it is also indisputable that it is far less harmful than continued smoking—as concluded by numerous public scientific data and studies around the world. Vape products also contain far less harmful chemicals compared to cigarettes,” the group said.
They also said the vape bill provides adequate safeguards to protect minors.
“We fully support provisions in the vape bill that prohibits minors from accessing these products as well as the banning of flavor descriptors that appeal to minors. There is also no debate that these products should not be sold to minors or non-smokers,” the letter stated.
“Thus, we welcome the inclusion of penal provisions in the vape bill to add more teeth for its proper enforcement.”
Signatories include Dr. Jose Dante Dator, former executive director of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute; Dr. Rafael Castillo, past president of the Philippine Heart Association; Dr. Arleen Reyes, past president of the Philippine Dental Association; Dr. Telesforo Gana, past president of the Philippine Urological Association; Dr. Fernando Fernandez, past president of the Philippine College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons; Dr. Howard Enriquez, past president of the Philippine Society of Otolaryngology; and Dr. Alvin Laxamana, past president of the Philippine Dental Association.
The appeal was also supported by Joy Calayo, president of the Philippine Biosafety and Biosecurity Association, Inc.; Florencia Ledesma and Leonardo Guevarra Jr. from the mathematics, physics, and biochemistry departments, respectively, at the University of Santo Tomas. — VBL, GMA News