DOH urges Duterte to veto vape bill

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
DOH urges Duterte to veto vape bill
Medical groups earlier urged Duterte to veto the proposed Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Regulation Act, saying it will expose the youth to health risks associated with smoking.
AFP / Eva Hambach / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health made a firm recommendation on Saturday to President Rodrigo Duterte to veto a measure that lowers the age of access to vape products to 18 from 21. 

In a statement shared over Viber, the DOH said that the proposed bill runs counter to the president's commitment to protect the youth. 

"The DOH strongly recommends to President Duterte to veto Senate Bill (SB) 2239 or the proposed Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Act," it said. 

"The vape bill is contrary to public health goals and to President Duterte's established position to protect Filipinos – especially the youth – from the harmful effects of smoke and emissions from tobacco products, vapor products, and heated tobacco products," the DOH added. 

It explained that once the vape bill will negate the gains of health laws and the Universal Health Care Act. 

"The veto of the Vape bill will strengthen tobacco control in the country and enable Duterte to leave an enviable and lasting legacy that will guarantee the health of generations of Filipinos," DOH said. 

Citing a 2021 survey by private pollster Pulse Asia, DOH said that majority or 70% of Filipinos interviewed were in favor of a policy which restricts the availability of vapes to those 21 and up. 

'Questionable' provisions

The bicameral version of the vape bill was ratified by the Senate earlier in January, but not all lawmakers were satisfied.

Sen. Pia Cayetano raised several questions on provisions which were carried in the bicam report. 

She questioned why the Department of Trade and Industry, which "has nothing to do with the healthcare of the people", was given jurisdiction over any issues and requirements related to e-cigarettes. 

In an earlier statement, she pointed out that the vape bill will make vapor products more accessible to senior high school students who can be victims of brain impairment when consuming such products. 

Cayetano also said that other flavors are still allowed, explaining that the wide array of flavors will make the products more attractive to the youth.

The education department made a similar call to veto the bill, which it described as 'anti-health'. 

"If there will be any attempt to amend existing laws, it should be to increase the age of access to harmful products, not lower it," the Department of Education said in an emailed statement on March 17.

Doctors, including those from the Philippine College of Physicians, earlier appealed to Duterte to veto the bill, saying it will only increase addiction to cigarettes, alcohol and illegal drugs.

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