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Doctors support Vape Bill’s strict provisions to protect the youth

April 28, 2022 People's Journal 367 views

TOP Filipino doctors and dentists expressed strong support for the strict provisions of the Vape Bill that aim to prevent the youth from using e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products while saving smokers’ lives.

Dr. Dante Dator, one of the country’s top urologists, said the final version of the Vape Bill aims to prevent the youth from using vape devices.

“Without the Vape Bill, our worst fears that minors will use vape products will become a reality. There simply isn’t enough law to strictly regulate these products,” said Dr. Dator, who is also the former executive director of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute.

Dr. Dator made the statement following the publication last week of the details of the final version of the Vape Bill and its key provisions particularly those meant to protect the minors and regulate the sale, advertising and public use of vapor products and HTPs which are considered less harmful alternatives to combustible cigarettes.

Dr. Dator said the enactment of the Vape Bill into law will guarantee the protection of the youth, so they will not use these products. He said the bill imposes very high penalties for violators which is important to ensure that the manufacturers and sellers of the product comply with the law.

“I strongly support the Vape Bill because it has many provisions that are dedicated to protecting the youth and making sure this age group doesn’t use vape products,” he said.

Dr. Dator also warned that without the Vape Bill, flavored and substandard e-cigarettes as well those high-nicotine vape products will continue to flourish because there is no law penalizing violators at present.

He said the Vape Bill has a provision that imposes a total ban on selling high-nicotine vapor products, which the current law, Republic Act No. 11467, does not have.

“This is as restrictive as it can get. It’s a no-brainer that this bill should pass into law,” he said.

The final version of the Vape Bill, as approved by the bicameral conference committee of the Senate and House of Representatives, bans the selling of vapor products with nicotine content above 65 mg/ml.

It also bans the use of flavor descriptors that appeal to minors in addition to the ban on using flavors that appeal to minors under RA 11467.

The bill also prohibits the display of vape products beside other products that appeal to minors in stores as well as the use of celebrities and social media influencers in advertising materials.

Dr. Arleen Reyes, chair of the scientific committee of the Asia Pacific Dental Federation, said the Vape Bill will protect the Filipino youth while providing adult smokers with less harmful alternatives.

“As a medical practitioner and someone who has been treating patients with dental diseases due to smoking for many decades now, I support the Vape Bill because it provides strong protection for our youth from ever using these products while at the same time providing an opportunity for our 16 million Filipino smokers to stop smoking and shift to a less harmful alternative,” said Dr. Reyes, who is also a past president of the Philippine Dental Association.

Dr. Romeo Luna Jr., president of the San Juan Medical Center Staff Association, confirmed that e-cigarettes and HTPs are significantly less harmful than cigarettes, based on several scientific studies.

“The scientific consensus from medical experts and public health regulators around the world is that vapor and heated tobacco products are less harmful than cigarettes,” said Dr. Luna who is also a practicing surgeon at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center.

“This simply means that for the 16 million Filipino smokers who cannot stop smoking, there is now a better and less harmful alternative for them,” said Dr. Luna.

During the House of Representatives deliberations of the Vape Bill, no less than the World Health Organization’s scientist-representative said that vape products are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta revealed.

Marcoleta urged President Rodrigo Duterte to sign the Vape Bill into law to ensure vapor products are regulated to protect public health and stop the entry of illegal products.

“Contrary to the fake news being spread by some doctors, we do not have a comprehensive law that regulates vapor products on matters pertaining to manufacture, sale, advertising, packaging, use, product standards and product registration unlike that of cigarettes. Why would you oppose a bill that seeks to regulate a vice or so-called Sin Products? It’s about time the President enacts this bill into law so we can make Filipinos stop smoking for good,” he noted.

Most Filipinos want the government to pass laws regulating less harmful alternatives to cigarettes based on a 2021 survey.

A survey conducted by ACORN Marketing & Research Consultants, the largest independent Asian research network, showed that 94 percent of Filipinos agree that the government should enact policies to encourage adult smokers to switch to these products.