Doctors belonging to various medical organizations yesterday appealed to outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the proposed measure which relaxes regulations on vape products, including the lowering the age limit of access from 21 to 18 years old to vape and e-cigarette products.
The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday also renewed its call to Duterte to veto the bill.
The DOH said it “supports the call” of several sectoral groups for Duterte to veto the Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Bill to protect children and the youth from accessing heated tobacco products easily.
Under the vape bill, individuals aged 18 and above would be allowed to purchase vaping products, as opposed to the current age requirement of 21.
The doctors’ group claims the bill, which is up for Duterte’s signature, is being “railroaded” and will lapse into law, adding that “vetoing the bill in the final stretch of his term will preserve Duterte’s legacy of fighting addiction.”
Last December 2021, presidents of 59 duly recognized health professional organizations led by the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) signed a petition strongly urging the President Duterte to veto the Vape Bill or SB 2239.
The doctors strongly objected to the Vape Bill as it also strips the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of its regulatory powers on vape products.
“This is in sharp contrast to the position of a handful of doctors supporting the bill, purportedly as a regulatory measure,” they said.
Vape supporters repeatedly claim that vaping is a form of harm reduction, but in truth, it is a form of harm introduction.
When taken by the youth, studies show that vaping increases the risk of smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and illicit drug use in the future.
Dr. Minerva Calimag, president of the Philippine Medical Association, said the Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Bill contradicts the policies to safeguard the well-being of the citizens.
“We oppose the vape bill because we cannot risk endangering the health and safety of Filipinos, especially the youth,” Calimag said.
Dr. Rizalina Gonzalez, chair of the Philippine Pediatric Society Tobacco Control Advocacy Group, said that keeping the access to vape products to those aged 21 and above is a better way of keeping young Filipinos from “this non-essential hazardous habit.”
“It is not harm reduction, but a dangerous nicotine trap. This is a harmful introduction to our teens and young adults,” she said.
Dr. Tony Hans said they suspect that this may be a delaying tactic by the tobacco industry to ensure that the bill is transmitted right before the end of President Duterte’s term.
This would restrict the space for President Duterte to review or veto the vape bill, hence allowing it to lapse into law by default.
A delay in the transmittal of the vape bill may deprive the President of his Constitutionally mandated function of review, approval and/or veto of any bill before it becomes a law.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III expressed doubt Duterte will sign the bill into law. With Willie Casas