Cayetano slams ‘devious attempt’ to pass VAPE bill, urges Duterte to veto measure before stepping down

Senator Pia Cayetano on Monday, June 27 made an urgent call for President Duterte to veto Senate Bill No. 2239 or the proposed Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Act, known more as the Vape Regulation Bill, before stepping down on June 30.

Cayetano, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, made the call after receiving information that the enrolled copy of the Vape bill was officially transmitted to Malacañang by the House of Representatives just last week, Friday, June 24, barely three working days left before Duterte’s term ends.

Cayetano, principal sponsor of the Sin Tax Law of 2020 or Republic Act No. 11467, has recently hailed the Supreme Court (SC) ruling which recognized the continued regulatory power of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over cigarettes and other tobacco products, which she said clearly includes vapes and e-cigarettes.

The final version of the bill was ratified by both Houses last January 26, and is awaiting Duterte’s signature.

“Five months have passed since the Senate and House approved the bicameral version of the Vape Bill on January 26. And so clearly, the transmittal of the bill at this late hour is a devious attempt to evade scrutiny by the outgoing administration, and to get the bill passed on to the next administration,” Cayetano said in a statement.

“Despite the shortness of time, the President and his team can act on this before noon of June 30, when President Duterte's term ends. Relevant agencies - including the Department of Health (DOH), the FDA, and even the Department of Education (DepEd) have expressed their position to VETO the Vape Bill!” she reiterated.

“I reiterate my call and echo the appeal of medical associations and health groups, including DOH, FDA, and DepEd, for the President to veto the Vape Bill as one of his final acts of service to Filipinos,” Cayetano appealed.

Cayetano said she is banking on the President being a staunch health and anti-smoking advocate.

“If passed, the VAPE Bill that is masquerading as a health bill will promote vaping and overturn the protective measures we fought for under the Sin Tax Law, namely: that (1) regulation is transferred from FDA to DTI; (2) minimum age of access to vapes is lowered from 21 to 18; and (3) more flavors allowed, instead of just plain tobacco and menthol,” she said.

“It's shocking, to say the least, if we consider how differently the US is addressing this vape pandemic. The US FDA recently banned Juul, and yet, here in the Philippines, we will loosen the restrictions by making the Vape Bill a law?” she pointed out.

President Duterte, she said, is still president of the Philippines until 11:59 of June 30, and anything can happen anything during this time until Thursday.

“Hanggang sa huling saglit ay umaasa ako na ipaglalaban nya ang kalusugan ng Pilipino (Until the last minute I am hoping that he will fight for the health of the Filipino). And this the President can do by vetoing the Vape Bill. Mahal na Pangulo wag n'yo pong pabayaan ang Pilipino (Our beloved President, please don’t neglect Filipinos). Veto the Vape Bill,” she stressed.