Joint House committees approve e-cigs and heated tobacco bill

Published August 27, 2020, 6:46 PM

by Manila Bulletin

The House joint committees on Trade and Industry and Health approved the substitute bill regulating the manufacture, importation, sale, distribution, use, advertisement, promotion and sponsorship of electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems (ENDS/ENNDS) and heated tobacco products (HTPs).

(MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

To be known as the “Non-Combustible Nicotine Delivery Systems Regulation Act of 2020,” the bill aims to regulate ENDS/ENNDS and HTPs “in order to promote a healthy environment and protect the citizens from any hazards.”

After six technical working group meetings and three committee hearings since December 2019, the House Committee on Trade and Industry voted 46 in favor, 5 against with 2 abstention, while 41 members of Committee on Health voted in favor with 5 voting against of the proposed bill.

It also considers adopting, as state policy, harm reduction measures as a public health strategy by ensuring that non-combustible alternatives to cigarettes are properly regulated.

“Despite the grim forecast of on tobacco related mortality, measures are being enforced to prevent it from worsening. Aside from the enactment of the Sin Tax Reform Law, safer alternatives to tobacco are being introduced in the Philippines,” said Rep. Sharon S. Garin.

“The concept of “harm reduction” has gained support from Filipino advocates over the years. Harm reduction refers to policies, and actions focused on reducing health risks, usually by providing safer forms of hazardous products,” she said.

The proposed law provides protection to minors from accessing ENDS/ENNDS and HTPs. The minimum allowable age for the purchase, sale and use of ENDS/ENNDS or HTPs is 18 years old.

Retailers are required to ensure that no individual purchasing these products are minor by verifying the age of all buyers through presentation of any valid government-issued identification card exhibiting the buyer’s photograph and age or date of birth.

Sale and distribution of the products is prohibited within 100 meters from any point of the perimeter of a school, playground or other facility frequented by minors shall be prohibited.

Online trade through internet websites or via e-commerce and other similar media, is allowed provided that sellers ensure that access is restricted to persons 18 years old or older and that the internet website bears the signages required by the bill.

Advertisements of the products is allowed in retailer establishments, through direct marketing, and on the internet. “These shall not be aimed at or particularly appeal to persons under eighteen (18) years of age. These should not undermine quit-smoking messages and should not encourage non-tobacco and non-nicotine users to use ENDS/ENNDS and HTPs.”

False claims with regard to product characteristics, health effects, risks or emissions is prohibited.

The use of ENDS/ENNDS or HTPs is allowed in designated vaping areas (DVAs) but is prohibited in all enclosed public places, in schools, hospitals, government offices, and facilities intended particularly for minors.

The bill provides that Department of Trade and Industry in consultation with the Food and Drug Administration, the National Tobacco Administration, and other concerned agencies shall promulgate rules, regulations, and standards, consistent with the provisions of the bill, on packaging, ingredients, graphic health warnings, detailed information on the allowable nicotine-containing e-liquid, the strength of e-liquids, compliance with applicable electrical standards as well as with applicable industry standards for batteries.

Existing industries and businesses affected by the implementation of this Act shall be given an 18-month transitory period from the effectivity of the implementing rules and regulations of this Act to comply with the requirements herein.

 
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