Medical groups ask Duterte to veto vape bill to 'protect health of Filipinos'


Medical organizations once again repeated their appeal for President Duterte to veto the proposed measure that seeks to lower the age of those allowed to purchase vape products.

“Kami na nasa medical field, tingin namin na the vape bill, kontra ito sa polisiya ng ating bansa (we, in the medical field, think that this vape bill is against the country’s policy) to safeguard the well-being of its citizenry, lalo na yung mga kabataan (especially the youth) from the harmful effects of vaping,” said Philippine Medical Association (PMA) President Dr. Minerva Calimag during a press conference on Wednesday, June 8.

“We oppose the vape bill because we cannot risk endangering the health and safety of the Filipinos. We urgently call on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to veto the vape bill. Protektahan po natin ang ating kapwa Pilipino (Let us protect our fellow Filipinos),” added Calimag.

In a collective statement, the medical groups said that the proposed measure "strips the Food and Drug Administration of its regulatory powers on vape products and lowers the age limit of access from 21 to 18 years old."

“This is in sharp contrast to the position of a handful of doctors supporting the bill, purportedly as a regulatory measure,” the groups said.

The groups also argued the status of the vape bill, noting that it was ratified by Congress’ bicameral conference committee on Jan. 25, 2022.

"Almost 150 days thereafter, it has yet to be transmitted to the Office of the President," the groups said.

"This may be a delaying tactic by the tobacco industry to ensure that the bill is transmitted right before the end of President Duterte’s term. This would restrict the space for President Duterte to review or veto the vape bill, hence allowing it to lapse into law by default," they added.

"A delay in the transmittal of the vape bill may deprive the President of his Constitutionally mandated function of review, approval and/or veto of any bill before it becomes a law," they furthered.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) also echoed the call of medical societies.

“The DOH supports the call to veto the vape bill. The DOH also strongly recommends to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to veto the said bill since it puts our youth at risk to the harmful effects of this product,” the state-health agency said.

“The vape bill contravenes public health goals and the avowed policy of the Duterte administration to protect the Filipinos especially the youth,” it added.

In a separate briefing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III expressed optimism that President Duterter will not approve such a measure.

“I doubt that the President will even sign that law, that vaping law. We leave it at that,” he said.