MANILA, Philippines — The Vaporized Nicotine Product (VNP) or 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.”
This was the statement of Deputy Speaker Wes Gatchalian released to the media. He said that when Congress deliberated the vape bill, they made sure that minors will be protected while adult smokers are provided access to cigarette alternatives, such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs), which are considered as less harmful alternatives to cigarettes.
He said the vape 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.”
“There’s no law yet that imposes stricter regulations on the importation, manufacturing, selling and advertising of vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products. This is where the vape bill comes in. It spells out the regulation and penalties, including imprisonment for violators, to ensure that only adult smokers can get their hands on these less harmful alternatives,” Gatchalian said.
The Senate and the House of Representatives approved the vape bill as a practical solution to address the high smoking rate in the Philippines amid the implementation of various prohibitive approaches by the government. Once enacted into law, the bill will regulate vapes and HTPs.
Gatchalian said it took two years for the 18th Congress to finally approve the vape bill. Previous versions of the bill were filed as early as 2011 during the 16th Congress. It was only this year when both Houses of Congress were able to approve a consolidated version of the landmark bill.
“The House (of Representatives) conducted seven technical working group hearings and three public consultations attended by medical experts and representatives of groups who are against as well as those who see the benefits of regulating science-backed innovative alternatives to address the smoking problem in the country.”
Two-thirds of the Bicameral Conference Committee consolidated version of bill are provisions for the protection of minors. The bill requires age verification for online sales. It prohibits the sales and promotion of vapes and HTPS within 100 meters from school perimeters. It bans product communications and promotions that appeal to minors, and the use of influencers and celebrities as product endorsers. It also prohibits the participation of minors in vape industry events.
The vape bill gives the Food and Drug administration the authority to assess and approve products with medicinal, therapeutic, and reduced risk claims, while the Department of Trade and Industry was mandated to issue product safety standards.
According to government data, there are more than 16 million Filipinos smokers. While 77 percent of them planned or thought about quitting, only 4 percent were able to do so.
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