By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Pia Cayetano is pushing to “highly regulate” the use and sale of e-cigarettes in the Philippines.
Cayetano announced this after President Rodrigo Duterte verbally ordered the prohibition on vaping in public spaces and the importation of vaping products due to their harmful effects on public health.
The senator, who is vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Health, said she understands the President’s reason for issuing the order after industry players challenged the government’s attempt to regulate e-cigarette products.
But instead of a total ban, Cayetano said she is more inclined to push for the strict regulation of e-cigarettes.
“I intend to file a bill, which I believe is more comprehensive and more reflective of the need to highly regulate a product that poses a health risk to the Filipinos,” she told Senate reporters in a phone interview.
Senator Francis Tolentino earlier filed a bill pushing for a total ban on the use, sale, and importation of e-cigarettes as a “precautionary” measure until they proven by health experts as less harmful to users and non-user than regular tobacco products.
“Kasi (But) for me, it’s a thin line. Ang aming (Our) understanding of the health risk is exactly the same. It’s more of the appreciation of what would work better in our country, a total ban or highly regulating?” Cayetano said.
She said her proposal, which she is still drafting, would include do’s and don’ts on e-cigarettes trade. Among them would be the proposed prohibition of their sale to minors and young adults.
“Because ang (the) brain, there is evidence that shows that the brain continues to develop until 25 years old. So at the age of 19, hindi ka na (you are no longer a) youth, pero ang brain mo and decision-making skills mo (but your brain and decision-making skills) are still very susceptible to persuasion, to advertisement and all that,” she said.
She will also propose the regulation of advertisements on e-cigarettes, as well as the designation of places where the use and sale of e-cigarettes would be allowed.
Cayetano said she is still reviewing the draft bill for further revisions but is ready to file it at any time.
Meanwhile, she said she will continue sponsoring the Senate bill seeking higher taxes for alcohol and tobacco products including e-cigarettes.
She urged her colleagues to expedite the debates on the measure, which President Duterte earlier certified as urgent.