Vape bill to support livelihood of 2.7…


THE vape bill will sustain the livelihood of more than 2.7 million Filipinos relying on the tobacco industry while providing more than 16 million adult smokers with less harmful smoke-free alternatives and protecting minors, advocates of the measure have said.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said the bill will provide income, employment and livelihood to tobacco farmers and workers and their dependents; increase revenues, regulate vapor products, and provide alternative options and transition for smokers to lessen or quit smoking.

The previous management of the DOLE submitted this position when sought comments and recommendations on the consolidated House Bill No. 9007 and Senate Bill No. 2239. The Office of the Executive Secretary had previously solicited inputs for the approval of the bill which was already ratified by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The vape bill aims to regulate “the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use and communication of vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products and novel tobacco products.”

In its comment, the DOLE said: “Tobacco growing, manufacturing and sales are important economic activities which support the livelihood of 2.7 million Filipinos, including tobacco farmers, workers, and their dependents. This reality must be considered in the treatment and regulation of this novel industry.”

It added that the measure “will certainly lead to job generation, opening of new businesses and provide more employment for the labor sector.”

In a letter sent to President Marcos Jr., the PhilTobacco Growers Association Inc., which represents more than 50,000 tobacco farmers in Northern Luzon, appealed for the enactment of the bill to ensure their livelihood.

“Sa kalaunan at sa kasama ang akmang suporta, naniniwala kami na magbibigay din ito ng pagkakataon upang kaming mga magsasaka ay maging bahagi ng makabagong mga produktong ito na ang pangunahing sangkap ay nagmumula pa din sa tabako (In the end and with the needed government support, we believe that this will give tobacco farmers the opportunity to be a part of the production of these products, the primary ingredient of which will still be tobacco),” the farmers said.

“Nais namin na kami ay maging bahagi rin ng potensyal na maitutulong nito hindi lang sa lokal na pangangailangan kundi pati sa posibleng pag-export nito sa ibang bansa (We would also like to be included not only in the local production of these products but also to their potential to be exported to other countries),” they also said.

Studies on tobacco use prevalence show that 16.6 million adults or 23.8 percent of the Philippine population are reported as tobacco users in any form.

“With studies suggesting that use of vape products contribute to decline in smoking prevalence, the bill provides access to less harmful alternatives, while espousing parity in regulation with that of cigarettes,” the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

“Maintaining its position for regulation of tobacco products, instead of its total ban, to prevent the proliferation of illicit trade, and aligned with its mandate on consumer protection and policy of ensuring a balance between all stakeholders’ interests, the DTI believes that vape products can be utilized as an alternative or a helpful means to transition from consuming conventional tobacco products to less harmful tobacco products,” it also said.

“Regulation of vape products, which are novel consumer products, is consistent with the DTI’s overarching mandates and capability to protect consumers and establish product standards under Republic Act No. 7394 or the Consumer Act of the Philippines and RA 4109 or the Philippine Standards Law,” it added.

The DTI cited data showing that some 2.18 million Filipino farmers, workers, and laborers depend on the tobacco industry. It said the bill will support the livelihoods of those economically dependent on the local tobacco industry and would help in keeping the industry afloat.

“Hence, the bill clearly provides a regulatory framework to ensure that taxes are collected from vape products, and thus, would contribute revenues to the national coffers,” the DTI said.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said the vape bill will strengthen Republic Act. No. 11467 and RA 11346, as it provides penalties which are absent in the two measures.  “The bill adds to the existing prohibitions found in RA 11467 like the prohibition on the use of flavor descriptors that appeal to minors in the packing.  This is on top of the flavor ban found in the said law,” it said.

“The regulation of vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products will be beneficial to our economy specifically to the farmers and laborers dependent on the tobacco industry and guide the local government units on the proper course of action to take relative to these vaporized products,” the DILG said.

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