Senate OKs regulated sale, purchase of vape products

The Senate, voting 19-2-2, approved Thursday on third and final reading a proposed measure regulating the sale, purchase and use of vaporized nicotine products in the country.

Under Senate Bill No. 2239 or the Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Act, only those 18 years old and above will be allowed access to vaporized nicotine products. Buyers must present a valid identification card to verify their age.

The measure also stated that only sellers or distributors registered with the Department of Trade and Industry or the Securities and Exchange Commission will be allowed to sell vape products online, while physical stores must not be located within 100 meters from the perimeter of a school, playground or other facilites for minors.

Advertisements of its products shall also be allowed provided that they will not be endorsed by minors and any celebrities or social media influencers.

A textual warning saying, "This product is harmful and contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance. It is not recommended for use by non-smokers," shall be conspicuously placed on their packaging," the measure read.

In voting yes for the approval of the bill, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, who also sponsored the measure, said, "it is good public policy for people smoking to shift to these types of products."

He said, "there will be less death and less expense on the part of society in treating patients. And that is the direction where many countries, more developed economies are moving toward."

Meanwhile, Sen. Pia Cayetano, who voted no, explained she objected its approval because the measure doesn't mandate the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the sale of vaporized nicotine products.

She also said that the bill will allow the sale of such products to individuals as young as 18, instead of 21, whose "brain is still developing" as well as permit the sale of various flavors, instead of just two, that will allow buyers to experiment from using vapes.

"But the sad reality is, when Congress speaks, we know that we are limited to the laws that we pass and we cannot work beyond that and because this is a resounding decision of this Senate, then I disassociate myself from this decision," she said.