Thursday, June 17, 2021
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HomeWorld‘Historic’ Bill To Regulate Vaping In Philippines Nears Senate

‘Historic’ Bill To Regulate Vaping In Philippines Nears Senate


A bill that regulates the manufacture, use, sale,
distribution, and promotion of vaping, as well as heated
tobacco products (HTPs) has passed its second reading in the
Philippines’ House of Representatives. Following its third
reading, it will go to the Senate. According to consumer
advocates, barring any undue outside influence, there the
bill will be approved into law.

“We
hope that the Senate will also support this bill to provide
millions of Filipino smokers with less harmful alternatives
to combustible cigarettes.”

Known
as House Bill 9007, the proposed ‘Non-Combustible Nicotine
Delivery Systems Regulation Act’ is a massive legislative
achievement for tobacco harm reduction advocates in the
Philippines, says Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of the
Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates
(CAPHRA).

“Nearly 90,000 Filipinos die from
smoking-related diseases every year. This legislation will
not only save thousands of lives, but the Philippines is now
leading the way in the Asia-Pacific region with reasonable,
risk proportionate regulation which will be very effective
in curbing smoking rates,” says Ms Loucas.

With
international evidence putting vaping at 95% less harmful
than smoking, non-combustible electronic nicotine and
non-nicotine delivery systems (ENDS/ENNDS) have been
available in the Philippines for more than a decade.
However, in 2019 the Government tried to ban the use of
e-cigarettes, HTPs, and other smoke-free
alternatives.

CAPHRA says once this proposed bill
becomes law, it will also remove any remaining vestiges of
influence from foreigners. This includes raising the age to
purchase to 25, and a ban on flavours other than menthol and
tobacco that was due to come into effect in May
2022.

A proposed Government ban sparked efforts by the
likes of Vapers PH and Philippine E-Cigarette
Industry Association (PECIA), with support from CAPHRA,
to meet with House and Senate representatives on the
benefits of smoke-free alternatives. They reinforced to
legislators that vaping has proved be the most effective
smoking cessation tool around the world, with the
Philippines in desperate need of best practice policies to
reduce the numbers smoking.

Consumer advocates in the
Philippines promoted the regulation of e-cigarettes as a
consumer product. They argued that the age of majority in
the Philippines is 18 – one can purchase tobacco, alcohol
and get married at 18 – so the current age to purchase of 21
was nonsensical. Supporting the minimum age for the
purchase, sale and use of such products to R18 would bring
vape in line with other ‘adult’ activities and
privileges.

At the same time, they argued adult
smokers keen to quit tobacco need reasonable access to safer
alternatives and restricted advertising should be permitted.
Product safety standards were also critically important to
the consumer advocates.

Clarisse Virgino, the
Philippine representative of CAPHRA, is delighted that the
country’s legislators have listened, saying the prospect
of more Filipinos successfully quitting smoking is of
historic significance given the country’s stubbornly high
smoking rates for decades.

“The proposed Act will
legitimize the market of vaporized nicotine products which
means that consumers will have better protection. We hope
that the Senate will also support this bill to provide
millions of Filipino smokers with less harmful alternatives
to combustible cigarettes,” says Ms Virgino.

Peter
Paul Dator, President of consumer group Vapers PH and CAPHRA
member, is equally pleased the country’s legislators are
acting. He says for too long the World Health
Organization’s ‘cold turkey’ approach to smoking
cessation has cost thousands of lives in low-income
countries with high smoking rates.

He notes that past
official statistics revealed nearly a quarter of all
Filipino adults smoked. This is matched by the Philippines
very low 4% smoking cessation rate – even though over
three-quarters of smokers wanted or planned to quit smoking
tobacco. Very few, however, were able to do so
successfully.

“It’s exciting that the country is
now legitimising the most effective method we have to quit
smoking. For years we’ve tried strategies such as going
‘cold turkey’ counseling, and nicotine replacement
therapy and our dismal national smoking rate speaks for
itself,” he says.

The Vapers PH president says the
Senate can be confident with the quality of work and level
of consumer and industry consultation that has informed the
legislation which he describes as enabling a realistic and
workable regulatory framework.

“This will
undoubtedly reduce serious sickness and premature death
among the 16 million cigarette smokers in the Philippines by
helping them to switch to a safer, smoke-free alternative.
The House of Representatives has done very well, and I know
the Senate is equally keen to pass evidence-based
legislation that helps reduce our appallingly high smoking
rates,” says Mr Dator.

Consumer groups in the
Asia-Pacific region have launched a petition that urges the
World Health Organisation (WHO) to respect consumer rights
ahead of the next biennial meeting of the WHO Framework
Convention of Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in November. Please
sign and share the petition at change.org/v4v-petition

For
a free digital media repository on tobacco harm reduction in
Asia Pacific – including media releases, images and graphics
– please visit https://apthrmedia.org

About
CAPHRA

The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm
Advocates (CAPHRA) is a regional alliance of consumer
tobacco harm reduction advocacy organizations. Its mission
is to educate, advocate and represent the right of adult
alternative nicotine consumers to access and use of products
that reduce harm from tobacco use.

https://caphraorg.net/

© Scoop Media

 



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