DOH, doctors oppose Senate passage of vape regulation bill

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 20) — The Department of Health has strongly objected the Senate approval of the vape regulation bill that lowered the age of those allowed to buy and use e-cigarettes and vapes from 21 to 18. The said Senate Bill No.2239 was approved last week.

"The bill is retrogressive and contains several provisions that contradict public health goals and international standards. It also undermines the country's progress in tobacco and control," the health department said in a statement on Sunday.

DOH described the bill itself as a "blatant disregard to public health." It added that the easing of age restrictions will put young Filipinos at risk since it will make vapor products easily accessible and more enticing to the youth since it comes in multiple flavors.

A total of 48 medical groups likewise objected the recently-approved bill that seeks to further expand Filipinos' access to vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products.

These groups are urging President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the controversial bill altogether.

The country's lead health agency stressed that vape products should be regulated as health products due to their toxic substances and effects. It also noted that vape liquids and its emission contain chemicals such as nicotine, propylene glycol, carbonyls, and carbon monoxide that are either addictive, toxic, or can cause cancer.

Several doctors reiterated that e-cigarettes and vape products are still as harmful as conventional cigarettes.

At least three dozen medical groups, led by the Philippine Medical Association, published a letter directed to Duterte saying the bill is "deregulation masquerading as regulation." They also questioned why the regulatory powers were transferred from the Food and Drug Administration to the Department of Trade and Industry.

They reiterated the need for the President to stick to his campaign promise to fight substance abuse and addiction.

"Once passed, this bill will deregulate the nicotine industry and will go directly against your promise... We thus repeat our plea for you to veto SB 2239 in its entirety," the letter dated Dec. 17 read.