Lawmaker pushes to regulate e-cigarettes to protect tobacco farmers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 14) – A bill seeking to regulate vaping products has been filed at the House of Representatives.

AAMBIS-OWA Party-list Representative Sharon Garin’s House Bill 5099 or Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems/Electronic Non-Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS/ENNDS), Heat-Not-Burn devices Regulation Act of 2019 has been pending with the Committee on Trade and Industry since last week.

Garin, in a statement on Thursday, said that the proposed law primarily centered on mitigating public health risks that the ENDS or e-cigarettes may pose. The World Health Organization said that ENDS contain chemicals such propylene glycol and sometimes, nicotine considered as toxic substances.

“The bill is anchored on the concept of harm reduction, which refers to policies, regulations, and actions focusing on reducing health risks, usually by providing safer norms of hazardous products,” Garin said.

The lawmaker also said that the proposal aims to protect small-time tobacco farmers who may have been suffering losses following the demand on e-cigarettes, which are commonly advertised as “safer” and “less harmful” alternative to conventional tobacco products.

“Aside from the rising health concerns, regulation is imperative to balance factors such as revenue generation, trade and commerce, job creation, the protection of minors and non-smokers, and the interest of tobacco farmers. There are a number of other factors to consider,” Rep. Garin stressed.

Early this year, the Department of Health has issued an administrative order (AO), regulating e-cigarettes. This means that vaping products were classified as “health or consumer products,” directly placing them under the FDA jurisdiction.

This also entails that the FDA needs to test them first to ascertain their safety and quality before they are allowed to be sold and distributed in the market.

However, firms sued DOH and FDA, challenging the constitutionality of the order.

They asked two courts to grant a preliminary injunction to require the FDA to stop implementing the said AO, according to a Department of Health official.

Health Undersecretary Rolando Domingo, who is also acting FDA chief, said earlier that they are “fighting” the two cases filed against the government in courts, in both Manila and Pasig .

The Department of Health (DOH) has been pushing for a total ban on e-cigarettes, as he raised the alarm on the rising number of young Filipinos hooked to vaping.

DOH argued there is still not enough hard evidence to support the health claims of the e-cigarette industry that vapes do not cause harmful effects on human health.

DOH defines e-cigarette as a product “made of plastic and metal device that heat a liquid nicotine solution (e-juice) in a disposable cartridge. It creates a tiny light on the tip even glows like a real cigarette and produces a vapor that stimulates the act of smoking.”