Vape law enacted to protect minors while giving smokers a fighting chance

August 15, 2022 People's Journal 180 views

LAWMAKERS, advocates and industry stakeholders look forward to the implementation of the Vape Law to protect minors and non-smokers while providing more than 16 million smokers less harmful options.

Former Representative Wes Gatchalian, one of the main authors of RA 11900, said the law was enacted to regulate these new products.

“If we don’t regulate these products, every kind of devices will proliferate in the market. Without regulating them, there will be no order. It would be difficult to police unwarranted and fly-by-night industries,” said Gatchalian, who is now the incumbent mayor of Valenzuela City.

Philippine E-cigarette Industry Association (PECIA) president Joey Dulay said Republic Act No. 11900 or the Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act will regulate the industry for the welfare of consumers.

“We support the Vape Law because it provides a comprehensive regulation that will protect consumers and promote responsible trade, ensuring minors and non-smokers are protected,” Dulay said.

RA 11900, which became a law on July 25, 2022, regulates the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use and communication of vaping products such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs).

Dr. Lorenzo Mata Jr., a physician and president of advocacy group Quit For Good, said the law will help address the world’s leading cause of preventable deaths which is the smoking epidemic. “Ten Filipinos die of smoking-related diseases every hour,” he said.

Gatchalian said the regulation of these smoke-free alternatives provide hope to millions of smokers who face serious health risks because of their exposure to smoke.

He said the vape law will provide comprehensive restrictions on trade of vape products, boost the economy by supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the government, protect minors and give adult smokers a chance to leave their deadly habit behind.w

Gatchalian also said the vape law is one of the most highly-studied pieces of legislation passed and ratified by the 18th Congress. He said the vape bill was in fact filed as early as the 17th Congress.

“In the 18th Congress, I refiled the bill for the same reason that there are lot of smokers who approached the House Committee on Trade and Industry proposing the regulation of these innovative products,” he said.

As chair of the committee, Gatchalian said he studied these innovative products and listened to international experts in Geneva and London. “When I went back, this bill was thoroughly studied and debated upon, and we invited both sides to take part in the hearings. It is one of the bills that lasted 10 hearings and meetings of the technical working groups. It was also the first time we conducted a hearing in Congress where we invited foreign experts,” he said.

Gatchalian said the bill overwhelmingly approved by the House was further enhanced in the Senate and the bicameral conference committee. “Finally, after many years, we now have the first landmark law that will really regulate the use of these products,” he said.

“We fought for 16 million smokers who wanted to change. With this law, we regulate the products, we regulate the flavors, we regulate the marketing of the products to the youth. This is purely for those who want to quit,” he said.

“This bill also tackled penalties. These products are widely smuggled and with this bill, we will be able to protect SMEs that are into this business. We will eliminate smuggling, plus we will generate P27 billion in taxes for the government each year,” said Gatchalian.

Dr. Mata said, “Quit for Good welcomes the enactment of the Vape Regulation Law. This will usher the drastic decline of smoking prevalence in the Philippines with the potential to save the lives of 16 million Filipino smokers. With the vape law, we now expect to see a decline in smoking-related deaths and diseases.”

He said compared to cigarette smoking, vaporized nicotine products such as e-cigarettes or vapes and HTPS are fundamentally different from and are better alternatives because these innovative products do not produce smoke and generate only aerosol or vapor by heating the e-liquid or tobacco.

“Leading public health regulators around the world have found these novel products as less harmful compared to smoking cigarettes. No less than the top public health authorities from UK, US, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Ukraine and China have found that vape products are significantly less harmful than smoking,” he said.

Dulay said the new law has stringent provisions for the protection of minors as it bans the sale to and use by minors of vape products. It also prohibits the sale, advertising and promotion of vape products within 100 meters of school perimeter and playground and the use of flavor descriptors that unduly appeal to minors in vape products.

“It also prohibits the display of vape products next to items of particular interest to minors. Equally important, and which is not provided by any other laws, is the imposition of penalties with a fine or imprisonment of persons who will sell to minors,” said Dulay.