22 May 2021
Source: Opinyon News Team
As the House of Representatives pass on second reading a bill regulating e-cigarettes, two former health secretaries have expressed fears that a loophole in the bill might cause even more addiction among the Filipino youth.
LOWERING the age of access to vape products and e-cigarettes does not make any sense at all, two former health secretaries argue.
As the House of Representatives pass on second reading House Bill No. 9007 (Non-Combustible Nicotine Delivery Systems Regulation Act), former health secretaries Jaime Galvez Tan and Paulyn Ubial expressed fears that a loophole in the bill might cause even more addiction among the Filipino youth.
The bill ostensibly provides protection to minors from accessing electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems (ENDS/ENNDS) or heated tobacco products (HTPs) by setting the minimum allowable age for the purchase, sale, and use of such products to 18 years old.
But for Ubial and Galvez Tan, the bill’s provision is actually worse than it sounds as it will lower the age of access from 21 to 18.
“We need to learn from the experience of the US in 2018 when the Surgeon General declared an epidemic on e-cigarette use among the youth,” Ubial, who was the first health secretary under the Duterte administration, said.
A report from the US Center for Disease Control shows that between 2017 and 2018 alone, the number of youth who used e-cigarettes went up by 1.5 million.
Ubial added that the Duterte administration had already taken steps to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes, especially flavored ones, to minors.
“If Congress will reverse these gains, it only means one thing, we are gambling on the lives of our children with the government ushering in a new generation of nicotine addicts,” she added.
Meanwhile, Dr. Galvez Tan, who served as health secretary during the Ramos presidency,
said that “to use the argument that the legal age of access to e-cigarettes should be lowered to 18 because cigarettes are available to 18 is quite unfortunate,” said Dr. Galvez Tan.
He added that the science is clear that the brain maturation of children happens only at the age of 25 which makes them able to resist addiction.
“What the government needs to do is update the archaic Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 to be consistent with science instead of backsliding on a very sound regulation,” he added.