DOH asks Duterte to veto vape bill

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 30)— The Department of Health (DOH) has urged President Duterte to veto a proposed measure seeking to lower the age of those allowed to buy and use e-cigarettes and vapes from 21 to 18.

The DOH said the approval of the proposed Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Act is contrary to Duterte’s position to protect the public from the harmful effects of smoking.

“The Vape bill is contrary to public health goals and to President Duterte's established position to protect Filipinos – especially the youth – from the harmful effects of smoke and emissions from tobacco products, vapor products, and heated tobacco products,” the department said in a statement on Saturday.

“If passed, the Vape bill will also negate the gains of Republic Act No. 11223 (Universal Health Care Act) and other health laws," it added. "It will place Filipino youths at undue risk of harmful and addictive substances associated with vape use like alcohol, marijuana, and potentially other illicit drugs.”

Both chambers of Congress ratified the bill last January and it now awaits the President’s signature.

In 2017, Duterte signed an executive order that prohibits the use of tobacco, including electronic cigarettes, in all public spaces.

The order also forbids anyone below 18 years old from using, selling, or buying cigarettes or tobacco products.

“The veto of the Vape bill will strengthen tobacco control in the country and enable President Duterte to leave an enviable and lasting legacy that will guarantee the health of generations of Filipinos,” the DOH said.

Several medical groups have also opposed the approval of the measure. The Department of Education earlier also asked Duterte to reject the bill.