Vape could still be available in black market despite Duterte ban, lawmaker warns

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FILE PHOTO. Despite President Rodrigo Duterte's recent orders against vape, House Committee on Dangerous Drugs Chair Robert Ace Barbers urges the administration to instead regulate its manufacturing, sale, and use nationwide.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 22) – The Duterte administration should reconsider its approach in banning the use of e-cigarettes and vape devices nationwide, as this could still trigger purchase in the black market, a lawmaker warned Friday.

House Committee on Dangerous Drugs Chair Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte 2nd District raised the point that harm reduction efforts of vape use would be more effective if it would be regulated, instead of implementing a total ban in the country.

“Naniniwala ako na yung pagpasok ng vaping sa bansa ay inevitable, papasok at papasok yan. Since inevitable...’yung sistema, bakit di natin tingnan yung rutang iyon? Dapat meron tayong regulasyon,” Barbers said in a forum in Quezon City.

[Translation: I believe that the entry of vapes in the country is inevitable, it will enter no matter what. And since that system is inevitable, why don’t we look into that route instead? We should have regulation.]

Tingnan natin paano ita-tax, sino yung dapat bumili, saan dapat bibili. That's why we want to limit the access of this new product because continuous pa rin yung research,” Barbers said.

[Translation: We have to see how we should tax, who should buy the product, and where can they buy it. That’s why we want to limit the access of this new product because the research is continuous.]

House deliberations on vape needed

Barbers added that the issue should be up for discussion in the House of Representatives by including the scope and other illegal methods that come with using vape amid its ban.

“We discussed briefly in our committee, tatanungin muna natin mga manufacturers: ‘yan ba ay hackable? Itong vape pwede bang lagyan ng shabu? Pwede bang lagyan ng marijuana?’ Kasi kung ganoon, ‘wag na talaga nating ipasok dito. Hulihin na lahat ng gumagamit niyan,” he said.

[Translation: We discussed briefly in our committee that we are bound to ask our manufacturers first: ‘is this hackable? Can you insert shabu in vape? Can you insert marijuana?’ Because if so, then its entry should really be prohibited. Anyone who will be caught using it should be apprehended.]

The lawmaker stressed that if vape can still be proven less harmful than tobacco, Filipino users can still weigh their options.

“But I think this should be a subject of debate in the House,” Barbers added.

Ten House members in the 18th Congress, including Barbers, have filed a measure seeking to regulate the sale, distribution, and manufacture of e-cigarettes and similar devices to instill health consciousness among Filipino smokers.

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Joey Salceda of Albay 2nd District also recently clarified that vape products will still be included in the sin tax measure and will even be taxed higher to make them “more prohibitive.”

READ: House backtracks, vape products to be taxed higher

On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police to start its crackdown on vaping devices due to health hazards.

READ: PNP starts crackdown on vape