Physicians slam ‘strategy’ to ease vaping restrictions…


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MANILA, Philippines — Representatives of medical societies opposed to the vape bill fear that its delayed transmittal to President Rodrigo Duterte may be a “strategy” to allow the approved legislation that relaxes vaping regulations to lapse into law.

In an online press conference on Wednesday, medical doctors and health advocates issued a “final call to action” for Duterte to veto the bill and for Congress to be transparent about the status of the proposed legislation that was approved by Congress in January.

Lawyer Benedict Nisperos of Health Justice Philippines expressed concern over the lack of action since then as it would not allow President Duterte to have enough time to review the bill and come to a decision.

“That’s why it’s alarming and that’s why we have to badger Congress and the Office of the President to act on this because we see it as a possible strategy of the tobacco industry to effect a favorable bill to be signed into law,” Nisperos told reporters.

In a separate forum, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said he was doubtful that President Duterte would approve the bill.

“I am concerned about this vape bill … Until now, it has not been submitted by Congress to the President. We will have to wait [for] what happens next, but I doubt the President will even sign that bill into law,” he said.

Objections

Duque refuted claims that vape or e-cigarettes would “ease you out of tobacco smoking,” as they would instead “ease you into more smoking” and excessive alcohol intake.

Dr. Minerva Calimag, Philippine Medical Association president, echoed the objections of critics of the vape bill, whose provisions include the lowering of the age restriction from 21 to 18, and stripping away the regulatory powers of the Food and Drug Administration which she said was the “duly constituted authority” in scrutinizing products with a pharmacological effect.

“Instead of this [bill] being regulatory, it instead relaxes even more the regulations on vape products,” Calimag said.

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