Groups laud passage of vape bill, say it will save millions of Filipino lives

Ten big consumer groups, representing 17 million Filipino smokers and vapers, lauded Congress on the passage of a landmark bill that would allow consumers to quit cigarette smoking and switch to less harmful vaping products.

At the same time, in a viral social media campaign “We Vape, We Vote,” e-cigarette and heated tobacco product users urged President Rodrigo Duterte to sign the bill into law and protect their right to freedom of choice.

In a letter addressed to President Duterte, consumers and harm reduction advocacy groups said the passage of the Vape Bill can save the lives of millions Filipino smokers, “because legitimate alternative products will be allowed to be sold to smokers who want to stop smoking.” 

The letter was signed by Vapers PH, Vaper Ako, Smoke Free Conversation PH, Nicotine Consumers Union of the Philippines (NCUP), Philippine E-cigarette Industry Association (PECIA), Quit For Good, Heated Equipment as Alternative to Traditional Smoking Philippines (HEATS), PROVAPE, Philippine Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates, Inc. and Consumer Choice Philippines. 

Minors also gets protection from the bill as it provides strong safeguards for their welfare. The Vape Bill bans the sale to and use by minors of vape products. It also bans the sale, advertising and promotion of vape products within 100 meters of school perimeter and playground. Use of flavor descriptors that unduly appeal to minors in vape products and the display of vape products immediately next to products of particular interest to minors are prohibited. Persons who violate these provisions will be penalized with a fine or imprisonment.

The groups said that by passing the Vape Bill, the Philippines will join the growing list of progressive countries that believe in providing less harmful alternatives to their smoker population who don't want to stop smoking. 

“Our country will join the ranks of the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand, Italy, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Norway, Greece, Portugal, Switzerland, Egypt, and Uruguay, among many others that believe in providing smokers with alternative products to save their lives. The experience of these countries will show that allowing alternative products has led to a significant drop in smoking rates with no effect at all on drug use or alcoholism. 

The group also noted that the Vape Bill will prevent the sale of unregulated and illegal products that do not pay excise taxes to the government. They said, it is not vaping per se that causes E-cigarette or Vaping Use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) but adding vitamin e acetate in vapor products which will be addressed by the Vape Bill. 

“Even the US CDC stated that smokers who have quit smoking and used vapor products should not go back to smoking and should switch completely to vaping,” they said.

They stressed that with the “growing positive scientific evidence coupled with our life-changing experiences, our resolve is stronger that vaping saves lives,” as they pleaded for President Duterte to sign the Vape Bill into law.