June 7 – Child Rights Network (CRN), the largest alliance of organizations and agencies pushing for children’s rights legislation in the Philippines, called on President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the consolidated House Bill 9007 and Senate Bill 2239 or the Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Bill once the ratified bill reaches Malacañang.
CRN reiterated the dangers posed by the proposed legislation, more popularly known as the “Vape Bill.”
“We have information that despite being ratified last January 31, the consolidated bill has yet to reach the president’s desk, thereby depriving him of his responsibility to act on the measure,” CRN Convenor Romeo Dongeto revealed.
“We call on Congress to immediately transmit the bill, almost half a year has passed since its ratification. Let the president exercise his authority, even in his last days in power,” Dongeto stressed.
“And once the Vape Bill reaches your desk Mr. President, on behalf of child rights advocates in the country, we implore you: veto this toxic legislation that has been the product of the tobacco industry’s moneyed lobbying efforts,” Dongeto continued.
“If passed into law, the Vape Bill will singlehandedly undermine your vaunted legacy of fighting against dangerous drugs, illegal substances, and smoking. If this becomes a law, it would open the floodgates to a future where dangerous substances can easily reach the Filipino population, especially Filipino children?
CRN reiterated its position that the Vape Bill essentially relaxes regulations on the sale, distribution, use, and promotion of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) or e-cigarettes, and vaporized nicotine products (VNPs), giving the tobacco industry a free pass to reach even children.
“Sponsors of the bill parrot the tobacco industry’s line that the Vape Bill seeks to strengthen regulations to discourage minors from using cigarette alternatives. This is far from the truth,” Dongeto said.
CRN noted that the consolidated bill lowers the minimum age of access to e-cigarettes from age 21 to 18, setting aside the proposal of several health experts to maintain 21 years old, which is the existing age restriction based on Republic Act 11467.
Despite putting several restrictions on flavor descriptors for ENDS and VNPs, the consolidated bill also gives a free pass on producers to use flavors that attract the younger generation, and even allows the online sale of e-cigarettes. “It’s like saying you’ve done nothing wrong even if you put poison in a drink, but skip on labelling it as poison,” Dongeto said.
The WHO and DOH have both repeatedly cautioned the public regarding harmful chemicals in ENDs and VNPs such as nicotine, ultra-fine particles, carcinogens, heavy metals, and volatile organic compounds. Results generated from peer-reviewed studies show that e-cigarette juices contain high levels of addictive nicotine, which can result in acute or even fatal poisoning through ingestion and other means.
Last March 17, even the Department of Education (DepEd) issued an official statement calling the Vape Bill an “anti-health bill,” especially as it relaxes the age restriction. “For School Year 2020-2021, at least 870,000 learners in the basic education sector were 18 years old, according to DepEd’s information system, while close to 1.1 million learners in senior high school were 18 to 20 years old. This is the number of learners who will become legally allowed to be marketed the harmful products once the bill becomes law,” DepEd stated. “We implore President Duterte to negate the lobbying of tobacco industry and uphold public health. Listen to your cabinet members, especially DepEd and DOH. Listen to health experts. Listen to child rights advocates. Veto the Vape Bill,” Dongeto concluded.