In the past month, two landmark decisions in tobacco control have been made worldwide. On June 13, the Supreme Court of the Philippines ruled that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the “competence and mandate to ensure safety, efficacy, purity, and quality of health products,” including tobacco products.
Meanwhile, on June 23, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered the e-cigarette company Juul to remove all its products from US markets, citing that it may have played a role in the rise of teen vaping. The FDA noted that Juul provided insufficient and conflicting data on the potentially harmful chemicals in its products.
These two decisions affirming the health harms of vape products and the primacy of the FDA’s role to regulate tobacco only strengthen the rationale to veto the Vape Bill.
The Vape Bill, which lapses into law on July 24 unless vetoed or signed, puts our youth at harm by lowering the age of access to vape products from 21 to 18 years old. It is a deregulatory measure masquerading as a health measure and waters down existing strong regulations on vape products.
The bill also transfers the jurisdiction of vape product regulation from the FDA to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). If the vape bill is passed, similar products that cause harm to public health will be regulated by different authorities: traditional tobacco products will be regulated by the FDA, while e-cigarettes and vape products will be under the jurisdiction of the DTI.
We urge President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to veto the vape bill to prevent more young non-smokers from being introduced to nicotine addiction. We fear that expanding access to vapes will do more harm to young people than it will do good to smokers who want to quit smoking. In December 2021, 59 of the Philippines’ largest and duly recognized medical societies and health professional organizations in December 2021 vehemently opposed the vape bill, in its plea to prevent a vaping epidemic.
President Marcos, your veto of a bill approved by a previous Congress, House Bill (HB) 7575, which creates the San Miguel Aerocity special economic zone and freeport, is a good precedent to veto another bill that was approved prior to your term.
You vetoed HB 7575 because of its fiscal risks and its infringement on or conflict with other agencies’ mandates. The Senate Bill 2239, or the Vape Bill, similarly poses significant health risks on the Filipino people, on the heels of a pandemic that ravaged our health care system. It goes against existing laws and an international tobacco control treaty that the Philippines has been part of since 2005. Like you did in vetoing HB 7575, demonstrate your strong political will. Show that you care for the welfare of the youth, the future of our nation. Veto the vape bill.