Default Thumbnail

Legislators say Vape law will reduce smoking-related deaths

July 27, 2022 People's Journal 531 views

SENATORS and congressmen said the enactment of the Vape Law is a “good public policy” that will reduce the number of deaths caused by the smoking epidemic in the Philippines where there are more than 16 million smokers.

“There will be less death and less expense on the part of society in treating patients. And that is the direction where many countries, more developed economies are moving toward,” former Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, the law’s sponsor in the Senate, said during the Senate debates.

Republic Act No. 11900 or the Vaporized Nicotine and Non-nicotine Products Regulation Act regulates the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use and communication of vaping products such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs). It is viewed as a ‘historic’ legislative public health measure by various sectoral groups.

“It is gift to the Filipino people towards better health and well-being,” said former House Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, one of the Vape Bill’s primary authors in Congress.

“This anti-smoking Vape Law is a landmark public health measure that we should all be proud of. It’s our first comprehensive anti-smoking law in almost 20 years. With this law, we have a very good chance to eradicate the smoking epidemic, which kills almost 100,000 Filipino smokers every year, once and for all. It will be just a matter of time before we see our country’s smoking rate go down,” Marcoleta said.

Former Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin, Jr., one of the authors of the vape law, said it will also prevent minors from having access to these new products.

“The VNNP law does not allow minors access to e-cigarettes. In fact, it has strict provisions to protect them. The law equalizes the minimum age of access to cigarettes and vapes to ensure that all adult smokers are provided with better alternatives. We care for all smokers’ lives,” Garbin said.

“If legally an 18 year old is allowed to buy cigarettes, then he should be allowed to have a better choice,” he said.

Valenzuela City Mayor Weslie “Wes” Gatchalian who served as Deputy Speaker of the 18th Congress and co-sponsor of the measure said, “The Vape Law is a historic milestone in our fight against smoking as it will give our 16 million Filipino smokers, who cannot quit smoking, a chance to have access to better alternatives.”

“At the same time, the Vape Law will protect our minors because they will be prohibited from buying these products and there are very stiff penalties for those who will be caught violating the prohibitions under the bill. Now that we have the Vape Law in place, it is time that our government agencies such as the DTI and FDA work together so we can bring down our country’s smoking rates,” he said.

The Vape Bill was introduced as House Bill No. 3330 in the 17th Congress filed by the late Congressman Rodel Batocabe of the Ako Bicol Partylist in August 25, 2016. In the 18th Congress, a total of three public hearings and seven technical working group meetings were conducted jointly by the House Committee on Trade and Industry and Committee on Health.

The House overwhelmingly approved House Bill (HB) 9007 with 192 affirmative votes, 34 negative and 4 abstentions on third and final reading on May 25, 2021, while the Senate passed Senate Bill (SB) 2239 voting 19 in favor, only 2 nay and 2 abstentions on Dec. 14, 2021.

Pursuant to the provisions of Section 27, paragraph (1), Article VI of the Constitution, the VNNP Bill automatically lapsed into law on July 25, 2022 as it was transmitted to the Office of the President last June 24, 2022.”

The VNNP law is considered as a landmark and historic legislation as it is the first comprehensive law that will regulate e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products giving smokers a less toxic alternative seen to drastically cut down smoking rates in the country for the years to come. At the same time, the Vape Bill provides for very strict rules on sales and promotion to ensure minors and non-smokers are not able to buy these products.

It is among the measures left by outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte without his signature, including the Agriculture Fisheries, And Rural Development Financing Enhancement Act, the Creative Industries Charter of the Philippines, and the Permanent Validity of the Certificates of Live Birth, Death, and Marriage Act.