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Vape News: Philippines Vape Bill Lapses into Law

by Alan Johnson on Aug 25, 2022

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Vape News: Philippines Vape Bill Lapses into Law

Perhaps you are aware that the Philippines vaping community recently witnessed a dynamic shift that will, beyond doubt, impact people's lives as we advance. Yes, a major law was passed to regulate the use and other related activities of e-cigarettes as well as heated tobacco products in the country. Therefore, several questions may come to mind. For instance, how important is this law? How did the bill fare at the Philippines senate? And how does its enactment affect vapers? This article provides insight into these. But first, what is this law about?

 

Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act

The Vape Regulation Act, also known as the Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulations Act, was a harmonized bill ratified by the Philippines House of Representatives and  Senate at the beginning of this year, January 26th.

And as mentioned earlier, it was designed to regulate the importation, production, sale, branding and packaging, distribution, as well as the use and consumption of anything vape, including e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs). The law aims at using global standards to protect Filipinos from the hazards of regulated, unregulated, and substandard products. Again, you should note that the law is a worthy improvement to House Bill 9007 or the ‘Non-Combustible Nicotine Delivery Systems Regulation Act.

 

How Did the Vape Regulation Bill Become a Law?

So, how did the bill fare at the Philippines senate? Pretty well, actually. It was so widely received that the votes eventually hitched at 19 to 2 in favor of the bill. However, when it was introduced to the Senate in late 2021, it was met with diverse reactions from different groups. And its provisions also sparked debates within the vaping community, as featured by several media outlets. While the debates ensued, several lobbying attempts were made by both the pro- and anti- groups to the bill.

During the presidential assent stage, which began on June 24th, 2022, then-President Rodrigo Duterte was met with a lot of pressure. Several stories flew around about efforts to lobby Duterte as well as the new President to veto the bill. You may know that the Philippines legal landscape allows the President a 30-day limit to sign a bill into law. However, neither of the presidents made a move on the bill.

As a result of this inaction, the bill finally lapsed into law on July 25th.

 

How Philippines Citizens React to E-Cigarettes

An Asian Research Institute conducted a survey in the Philippines. And it was found that 90% of local smokers (i.e., 9 out of 10) support a healthier nicotine consumption plan. Hence, available alternatives to direct cigarette inhalation, such as e-cigarettes, were declared a better option to opt for. And if a public health strategy makes these alternatives available, they are open to it. Thus, they are receptive to e-cigarettes and vapes.

In the same vein, more comprehensive research conducted by ACORN Marketing & Research Consultants and commissioned by Consumer Advocacy Group Vapers PH reveals that the public calls for a decrease in tobacco harm.

This is one of the many reasons the bill was introduced. And thankfully, it has been enacted. Thus, these products are now allowed in the country with detailed regulations on their manufacturing, distribution, and consumption. According to ACORN, "Majority have a positive perception, would consider switching to e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products, and would like to have greater access to accurate information about these products."

Here are a few facts about the new law:

  • The law gives room for the sales of vaping products with nicotine strengths of up to 65 mg/mL (6.5 percent).
  • The legal age of product purchases has been lowered from 21 to 18. Thus, more people would take on vaping in the country. However, minors are restricted.
  • The law introduces restrictions and sanctions on stores and online vendors that sell vaping products.
  • The new vape law disallows the promotion of vape products. This is especially true with social media brand ambassadors and influencers boosting vape brand sales.
  • There is atransfer of authority over vaping and heated tobacco products from the Philippines Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). So, the DTI will create product standards and rules for sellers.

 

How Will the Philippines Law Affect Nicotine Consumers?

Did you know that over 16 million Philippines citizens smoke? The new law helps to reduce the negative health impacts of smoking by offering vaping as a suitable option. With this enacted bill, e-cigarettes are now products approved and regulated by the government. And this healthier alternative undoubtedly has the potential to save millions of lives.

One of the notable icons who sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives is former House Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta. And here are a few words he has to say as regards the impact of the bill on the overall health of Filipino people, "It is a gift to the Filipino people towards better health and well-being."

The former House Deputy speaker further opined, "With this law, we have a very good chance to eradicate the smoking epidemic, which kills almost 100,000 Filipino smokers every year, once and for all. It will be just a matter of time before we see our country's smoking rate go down." And interestingly, the government has set up parastatals to execute this positive health change among the Filipinos. The bill instructs the Department of Trade and Industry, as well as the Food and Drug Administration, to cater to this. They will be responsible for setting up a quality standard for vape products.

Further, they are tasked with ensuring safe and consistent vape products. And in the same vein, the Department of Health is asked to set workable guidelines and strategies for awareness campaigns. These campaigns are largely focused on smoking and vaping restrictions. Examples include that no one below 18 can purchase, sell or use any vaping or e-cigarette product. Hence, the bill asks the DoH to put up structures for the executions of these sensitization drives.

 

Heading in the Right Direction

Most legal tussles as regards vape law across the globe can be seen as misguided debates. Many countries should take a cue from the Philippines with this new law. Rather than fight vaping, why not create a sustainable legal structure that will ensure a healthier use of nicotine? The Philippines have found a laudable and innovative way to create smart vaping guidelines. Now, other countries should do the same.