Advocates break the lies, expose the harms of vapes

Davao City, March 8 – More than 5,000 people from Davao City and the Island Garden City of Samal joined Parents Against Vape (PAV) in its appeal to Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte to veto SB 2239 or Vape Bill 2022.

PAV is an alliance of parents, teachers, public health experts, and community groups based in Davao City and Samal Island.

Worried that the provisions of vape bill will lead to easier access to heated tobacco products (HTPs) or e-cigarette products, the PAV – along with more than 5,000 people who signed the petition to veto the vape bill – urged President Duterte to veto the SB 2239.

“As parents, we are alarmed at the provisions of the bill. The Vape Bill 2022 lowers age of access, allows flavors that entice children and youth, makes them available online, allows the use of cigarettes in public places, and transfers its regulation to the Food and Drug Administration,” said the group in their letter signed by Ms. Imelda Esposado-Gocotano, PAV Convenor.

In a statement, the PAV appeals to Pres. Duterte to support the strict regulation of vape products.

“We have enough laws and policies that strictly regulate these harmful products which you issued. Thus, we humbly ask you, Mr. President to protect your legacy, maintain these laws and policies, and allow their full implementation. Mr. President, please veto the vape bill 2022 for the full protection of our children and the youth,” the group appealed.

This was echoed by Atty. Benedict Nisperos of HealthJustice Philippines saying, “The vape bill 2022 is a profit-oriented and industry-sponsored bill masquerading as a public health policy.”

“We already have a comprehensive and strict regulatory regime for vape regulation as embodied in Republic Act Nos. 11346 and 11467 and Executive Order No. 106 signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. The Vape Bill 2022 reverses the policy of the Duterte Administration against these addictive and toxic products,” Atty. Nisperos said.

He stressed that vape bill “reverses” the key policies that will ensure that kids are protected from these harmful and toxic products.

He cited that the age of access restriction is reduced from 21 years old to 18 years old when the higher age restriction is the global best practice.

“The regulatory power is taken away from the Food and Drug Administration and exclusive jurisdiction is given to the Department of Trade and Industry, when these toxic products should be under FDA’s jurisdiction. While FDA has jurisdiction on vape products with health claims, the vape industry can easily market their products as consumer products not as health products. No one will have to undergo FDA regulation. All products escape FDA scrutiny. In short, FDA was creatively sidelined by this industry-favoring bill,” he added.

“The vape bill 2022 allows public vaping as a default while EO106 prohibits it as a default. The enumeration where these products can be used in public is more comprehensive in EO 106 than this new bill,” he concluded.

Tobacco industry peddles lies on vapes

Meanwhile, an official of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) belied the claim of vaping supporters that heated tobacco products or electronic nicotine delivery devices are ‘switching products’, claiming it to help smokers quit.

“The reality is that there are many smokers who – when they try to quit smoking and use e-cigarettes – become dual users,“ said Dr. Edgardo Ulysses Dorotheo, SEATCA Executive Director, in his message during a press briefing.

Dr. Dorotheo even cited the recent news article of The Guardian which reported the inventor of e-cigarettes, Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik, becoming a dual user himself.

This is why, he explained, ‘vapes’ will never be an effective cessation strategy or even for ‘switching’. On the contrary, he warned the government that the vape bill is particularly “worrisome” because of the profile of vapers in the Philippines. Citing the study of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute in 2018, Dr. Dorotheo said that 20% of vapers right now are teens.

Senator Pia Cayetano, in a separate report, called out the proponents of the vape bill for supposedly claiming that the measure is beneficial to the youth, calling the claim “a blatant lie.” Cayetano argued that if it solidifies the provisions of Republic Act (RA) No. 11467 by strengthening the flavor ban on electronic cigarettes, then “They should have just kept the provision of the Sin Tax Law, which limits vape flavors to plain tobacco and plain menthol only,” but they instead “provided wording that allows hundreds and thousands of flavors to flood the market”.

Cayetano believes that the youth would be better protected if the government would retain the regulation to harmful products to those 21 years old above. The Sin Tax Reform Law of 2020 only allows those 21 years old to purchase harmful products, but the vape bill lowered it to 18 years old.

“Legislators claiming that this vape bill is consistent with the public health legacy of the Duterte Administration is simply twisting of the true stand of this administration against smoking and vaping,” Atty. Nisperos concluded.

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