Prioritize children’s health, set strict rules on e-cigarettes — CRN

Published May 18, 2021, 2:17 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki


“Priority: children’s health over profit.”

This was stressed by the Child Rights Network (CRN), the largest alliance of children’s rights advocates in the Philippines, as it urged legislators to change their views towards the regulation of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes).

The CRN expressed its concern based on the Food and Nutrition Research Institute’s 2019 data which showed that one out of five vape or e-cigarette users in the country are adolescents or 19 years old and below.

It pointed out that a 16-year-old girl became the first victim of e-cigarette or vaping when she was hospitalized and brought to the intensive care unit (ICU).

“We urge our legislators to change their view towards these products from a standpoint of non-use and harmlessness, rather than in the scale of harmfulness (harmful vs. less harmful) as promoted by the industry,” the CRN said in a statement.

Bills seeking to promote Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) or vapes “in the guise of regulation” are currently being discussed in Congress.

The CRN expressed its apprehensions because it said changes are being made to Republic Act No. 11467, the law that amended various provisions in the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC).

One of the bills in the House of Representatives “has dangerous provisions” such that instead of tightening the provisions, the bill would remove from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to regulate e-cigarettes and assign it to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), it said.

E-cigarettes would then be treated as “just another consumer product” because the age restriction would be lowered to 18 years old and the list of flavors would even be expanded, it stressed.

Together with health advocates, the CRN has also expressed its displeasure against the current version of the bill because it reverses the adequate regulatory framework established by RA 11467.

“With the resumption of the 2nd Regular Session and with only three weeks to go before the adjournment, the CRN and its convenor, the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), call on legislators to put the interests of Filipinos, particularly children and youth first and not the industry, in the deliberation of these bills,” the CRN said.

It pointed out that there is enough evidence to prove that e-cigarettes cause significant harm to its users, and it does not matter if they are new users or are shifting from the use of traditional cigarettes. Because of attractive flavors and trendy marketing, more and more young people are being lured to use e-cigarettes, it said.

“Let us protect children and young people from the harms of these products and the deception of the industry behind it,” it added.