Vape bill to strengthen flavor ban for e-cigarettes

Published March 3, 2022, 2:08 PM

by Manila Bulletin

The bicameral conference committee’s report on consolidated House Bill 9007 and Senate Bill 2239, also known as the Vape Bill, will ban the sale of e-cigarettes with flavor descriptors that appeal to the youth.

Nueva Ecija 1st District Rep. Estrellita Suansing

This was revealed by Rep. Sharon Garin, House Committee Chairperson for Economic Affairs and a member of the Vape Bill house bicam panel, to members of the media.

“With the passage of the Vape Bill, we are solidifying the provisions of RA 11467 and Executive Order 106 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte and in particular banning the sale of e-cigarettes with flavors other than menthol and tobacco. Under the Vape Bill, we added another ban, which is prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes with flavor descriptors that appeal to the youth. This is in addition to the flavor ban that exists today”, she said.

Nueva Ecija 1st District Rep. Estrellita Suansing, a long-time health advocate and one of the authors of the Vape bill in the House of Representatives, said lawmakers are cognizant of the concerns related to flavors when they drafted the bill.

“The Vape Bill is very restrictive when it comes to flavors. We understand that flavors should not be used to target minors and non-smokers. The goal has always been to reach adult Filipino smokers and convince them to use these products instead of cigarettes,” she said.

House Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta stressed that the Vape Bill has very strict safeguards for youth protection.

“Out of the 30 provisions of the entire bill, half of it is for prohibition, especially (for) minors who should not be given access to these products,” he said.

Back in February 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order 106 to provide regulation for vapor products including banning the sale of e-cigarattes that uses flavors that are appealing to the youth. Most of the provisions of the said order were patterned with the regulation for cigarette products.

“We need a comprehensive and special law to regulate vapor products similar to the ones we have for cigarette products. We made sure that every aspect of regulation for these products were included in the bill including the manufacture, importation, sale, distribution, use and advertising. We did not leave any stone unturned and even included the provisions under EO 106 issued by the President. More importantly, we made sure that this bill has teeth for enforcement by including severe penalties for violators thereof – something that we don’t have at present under RA 11467 and EO 106”, Rep. Garin further noted. w Once enacted, the Vape Bill will consolidate and further solidify the provisions of RA 11467 and EO 106 to provide more teeth to these existing rules. Aside from banning the sale of high nicotine e-cigarettes (above 65mg/ml), the Vape Bill further expands the restrictions under EO 106 by prohibiting the use of vapor products in churches and government buildings. It also bans the use of advertising materials that are attractive to minors.

“I don’t understand the misinformation being spread by some sectors that this bill overturns the ban on the use of flavors that appeal to minors and other restrictions under EO 106. This is fake news. Except for the age requirement, the Vape Bill DOES NOT REPEAL the provisions of RA 11467 and EO 106. It actually strengthens it”, Congresswoman Sharon Garin emphasized.

Under the Vape Bill, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will continue to have exclusive jurisdiction and regulate vapor products with health claims while the Department of Trade and Industry will regulate vapor products without health claims. The FDA will also take part in the drafting of the implementing rules and regulations as well as the product standards for vapor products.

“The Vape Bill does not repeal or take away the jurisdiction of the FDA to regulate vapor products with health claims. It merely provided clarity and delineation that for vapor products without health claims, it will be the DTI who will be the regulatory body”, Congresswoman Sharon Garin commented.

The Vape Bill was approved by the House and Senate with an overwhelming support from its members. In the House, 195 members voted to support the bill while 19 senators voted yes for its approval. According to a recent survey by ACORN Marketing and Research, which is the largest independent Asian Research network, 94% of Filipino smokers agree that the government should enact policies to encourage adult smokers to switch to less harmful tobacco alternatives.