Health and environmental organizations condemn the passage of the controversial vape bill into law yesterday and criticized the failure of the new administration to safeguard the health of Filipinos against the harms of tobacco and vape use.
The bill in question breaches the provisions of RA11467 by lowering the legal age of access from 21 to 18, making a harmful product easily accessible to the youth. The bill also eliminates measures to prevent user addiction by permitting artificial flavors, which has been shown to be one of the main factors for luring young people into vaping and increases the likelihood of addiction. Furthermore, the bill also designates the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), whose primary responsibility is to promote and develop businesses, as the leading regulatory body for a product that directly affects the health.
“As the new father of this country we expected the President to uphold the health and welfare of his people. In the past weeks, he has remained silent on this issue and our calls for a veto of this regressive vape bill have fallen on deaf ears. This law has now opened the gates to a generation of younger smokers by making a dangerous product easily available to our youth at the height of an economic and health crisis.” Said Dr. Maricar Limpin, executive director of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines.
Despite putting emphasis on the establishment of a center for disease prevention and control in yesterday’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), Dr. Limpin reiterated the importance of focusing on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) aside from measures to control the rising COVID-19 cases.
“Concentrating only on viral and infectious diseases is short-sighted. It must include measures to control and prevent NCDs as the health costs for treating tobacco-related illnesses remain one of the biggest economic burdens of the country. A person cannot solve a health issue by looking at and addressing only one side of the problem,” Dr. Limpin added.
“We lament that this toxic legislation has now lapsed into law. President Marcos Jr. and his predecessor ex-President Duterte missed the opportunity to veto the bill in order to uphold our people’s inalienable rights to health and a healthy environment as guaranteed in the Clean Air Act and the Constitution. As an advocate for a zero waste and toxics-free society, we are also concerned that this law will add to more non-recyclable single-use plastic and electronic waste in our landfills and the natural environment, including the oceans. The threat of vape waste and pollution is real,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
The passing of the vape bill into law also breaks down the very foundations for stronger regulation on vapes institutionalized by President Duterte such as the Executive Order 26 series of 2017 for the establishment of smoke-free environments and Executive Order 106 series of 2020 which incorporates vapor and heated tobacco products, as e-cigarette products have been scientifically proven to have negative health effects.
Branded by the Department of Health as a “Trojan Horse”, the vape law was transmitted in just three working days before former President Duterte’s term ends in a desperate effort to evade scrutiny.