Leading medical experts lauded Congress for including strict provisions in the final version of the Vape Bill to prevent the use of substandard electronic cigarettes, flavored vapes, and products with high-nicotine content.
Dr. Dante Dator, one of the country’s top urologists, said the bill will ensure the regulation of these products, which the existing laws do not address.
“Equally important and unknown to many, [the Vape Bill imposes] total ban on selling high-nicotine vapor products, which the current law, RA 11467, does not have. This is as restrictive as it can get. It’s a no-brainer that this bill should pass into law,” said Dator, who is also a former executive director of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute.
Dator’s comment followed the publication last week of the details of the final version of the Vape Bill and its key provisions, particularly those designed to protect minors and regulate the sale, advertising, and public use of vapor products and HTPs, which are considered less harmful alternatives to combustible cigarettes.
The final version of the Vape Bill, as approved by the bicameral conference committee of the Senate and House of Representatives, bans the selling of vapor products with nicotine content above 65 mg/ml. It also prohibits the use of flavor descriptors that appeal to minors in addition to the ban on using flavors that appeal to minors under RA 11467.
The bill also prohibits the display of vape products beside other products that appeal to minors in stores as well as the use of celebrities and social media influencers in advertising materials.
Dator said the final version of the Vape Bill, once enacted into law, will guarantee the protection of the youth, so they will not use these products.
“Without the Vape Bill, our worst fears that minors will use vape products will become a reality. There simply isn’t enough law to strictly regulate these products,” he said.
Dator said the bill imposes strict penalties for violators which is important to ensure that the manufacturers and sellers of the product comply with the law.
“I strongly support the Vape Bill because it has many provisions that are dedicated in protecting the youth and making sure this age group doesn’t use vape products,” he said.
Dr. Arleen Reyes, chair of the scientific committee of the Asia Pacific Dental Federation, said the Vape Bill will provide adult smokers with less harmful alternatives while protecting the Filipino youth.
“As a medical practitioner and someone who has been treating patients with dental diseases due to smoking for many decades now, I support the Vape Bill because it provides strong protection for our youth from ever using these products while at the same time providing an opportunity for our 16 million Filipino smokers to stop smoking and shift to a less harmful alternative,” said Dr. Reyes, who is also a past president of the Philippine Dental Association.
Dr. Romeo Luna Jr., president of the San Juan Medical Center Staff Association, agreed that e-cigarettes and HTPs are significantly less harmful than cigarettes.
“The scientific consensus from medical experts and public health regulators around the world is that vapor and heated tobacco products are less harmful than cigarettes,” said Luna who is also a practicing surgeon at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center.
“This simply means that for the 16 million Filipino smokers who cannot stop smoking, there is now a better and less harmful alternative for them,” said Luna.
The World Health Organization’s scientist-representative affirmed during the Congress’ deliberations of the Vape Bill that vape products are less harmful than traditional cigarettes. This was revealed by Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta in a radio interview.
He urged President Rodrigo Duterte to sign the Vape Bill into law to ensure vapor products are regulated to protect public health and stop the entry of illegal products.
“Contrary to the fake news being spread by some doctors, we do not have a comprehensive law that regulates vapor products on matters pertaining to manufacture, sale, advertising, packaging, use, product standards and product registration unlike that of cigarettes. Why would you oppose a bill that seeks to regulate a vice or so-called Sin Products? It’s about time the President enacts this bill into law so we can make Filipinos stop smoking for good,” Marcoleta said.
A survey conducted by ACORN Marketing & Research Consultants, the largest independent Asian research network, showed that 94 percent of Filipinos agree that the government should enact policies to encourage adult smokers to switch to these products.