Philippines: Health experts ask Duterte to veto vape bill; DOH backs call

24 January 2022

By: Consuelo Marquez and Joahna Lei Casilao Source: GMA News

The Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) on Monday appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the measure seeking to regulate vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products or vapes.

In an online forum, PCP president Dr. Maricar Limpin said the vape bill being pushed by the Congress will break Duterte’s  campaign promise to curb the proliferation of narcotics.

“Ang apela po namin sa ating Presidente, Mr. President, we appeal to you to veto the bill the vape bill… dahil ito ay deregulation ng e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products,” said Limpin.

(We appeal to President Duterte to veto the vape bill. It is a deregulation of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.)

“At yung vape bill na ito will break the vow you made to Filipino people to fight addiction. Ang mangyayari ho nito [What will happen is] it will increase addiction to cigarettes and alcohol and illicit drugs,” she added.

Limpin said the aim behind the bill is for the tobacco industry to expand its market to children.

“Ang katotohanan lang talaga itong mga industriya na ito—tobacco industry—it merely wants to expand the market. Siguro mag-e-expand by making it available doon sa mga bata. ‘Yun ang kanilang future clientele yan,” she said.

(The truth is the tobacco industry wants to expand its market by making it available to children, their future clientele.)

In the same forum, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Eric Domingo stressed that vape products, which contain nicotine, must be regulated by the FDA.

Under the reconciled bill for regulating vape products, the Department of Trade and Industry was tasked to handle the registration of vape products. The DTI will also consult with the FDA in setting technical standards for the safety, consistency, and quality of the vape products.

“Ang problema po hindi regulated ang access sa mga produkto na ito. Kahit sino puwedeng bumili. Nakikita natin mga kabataan bumibili ng ganito at dahil hindi regulated, ‘di natin alam kung ano ang laman ng mga binibili nila na ‘yun  at ginagamit nila. ‘Di natin alam kung may substance na nagcacause ng cancer or nakamamatay or poisonous,” Domingo said.

(The problem is access to vape products is not regulated. Anyone can buy it. Children can buy it and because it’s not regulated,  we don’t know its contents. We don’t know if it has substance that cause cancer or it could be deadly or poisonous.)

“Kaya agree po tayo na kailangan na regulation. Kaya lang the vapes must be regulaed by the proper authority,” he added.

(We agree it should be regulated but by the proper authority.)

He also pointed out that there is already an existing Executive Order (EO) that authorizes the FDA to regulate the said products, adding that there is no need to pass another law.

“May EO na binalangkas at pinirmahan ng Pangulo na naglalagay ng regulasyon sa FDA. So nakikiusap kami, itong nandiyan na huwag na baliktaran. I-allow ang implementation na ito at protektahan ang kalusugan ng kababayan lalong lalo na ang kabataan,” he added.

(The president already signed an EO that allows FDA to regulate these products so let’s not change that. Let’s allow implementation of the EO to protect the health of the public especially the children.)

Pediatric pulmonologist Dr. Corry Avanceña said Duterte must think of his daughter, Kitty, during the veto of the bill.

She said she is also pushing for allowing vape access only for those aged 21 and above.

“Panawagan ko kay President Duterte, isipin si Kitty habang sina-sign ang pagveto ng bill na ito. Let’s think of Filipino children.  We don’t want them to start a habit. Gusto natin 21 and above ang bumili,” she said.

(I want to ask the President to think of his daughter when vetoing the bill. We want those aged 21 and above to buy the vape instead.)

DOH supports call

In addition, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the nation’s health department supports the call of medical societies to veto the Vape Bill.

“So sinusuportahan po natin sila at pinaglalaban ang kalusugan ng mamayang Pilipino [we support them and we fight for the health of the Filipino public],” Duque said at the Laging Handa briefing.

“Lalong-lalo na ang mga kabataan na ayaw natin mag umpisa sa ganitong klaseng bisyo na wala po idudulot na kabutihan kundi kapahamakan lamang sa kanilang kalusugan,” he added.

(Especially for the youth who should not start with these kinds of vices that  only damage  their health.)

Last week, the bicameral conference committee reconciled the disagreeing provisions of the Senate and House versions of the measure seeking to regulate vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products or vapes.

It still needs to be ratified by the Senate and House of Representatives before it reaches Malacañang for Duterte’s signature. 


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