June 7 – Parents and cause-oriented youth groups have joined the call for President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the consolidated House Bill 9007 and Senate Bill 2239 or the Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Bill, more popularly known as the “Vape Bill.”
The said bill, ratified by both houses of Congress last January, has yet to be transmitted to Malacañang. However, there are reports saying that this is a tactic meant to reduce the president’s time to carefully study the proposed legislation.
“As concerned parents, we are now sounding the alarm, Mr. President. Time is ticking. Call on Congress to immediately transmit the bill. The almost half-year long delay has been orchestrated by the tobacco industry and self-serving legislators to deprive you of the opportunity to act on the bill and protect your legacy against dangerous substances,” explained Imelda Gocotano, convener of the parents group Parents against Vape.
“We reiterate our grave concern over this anti-health bill. It will endanger our children, the hope of the nation. Act now Mr. President, and stop the evil plan of those behind this dangerous bill,” Gocotano added.
In an earlier statement, Child Rights Network already raised several concerns on the Vape Bill, including the way the bill relaxes regulations on the sale, distribution, use, and promotion of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) or e-cigarettes, and vaporized nicotine products (VNPs), giving the tobacco industry a free pass to reach even children.
The consolidated bill also lowers the minimum age of access to e-cigarettes from age 21 to 18, setting aside the proposal of several health experts to maintain 21 years old, which is the existing age restriction based on Republic Act 11467.
The Department of Education has already released an official statement expressing concern on this provision. “For School Year 2020-2021, at least 870,000 learners in the basic education sector were 18 years old, according to DepEd’s information system, while close to 1.1 million learners in senior high school were 18 to 20 years old. This is the number of learners who will become legally allowed to be marketed the harmful products once the bill becomes law,” DepEd explained.
Despite putting several restrictions on flavor descriptors for ENDS and VNPs, the consolidated bill also gives a free pass on producers to use of addictive flavors that attract use among the younger generation, and even allows the online sale of e-cigarettes.
The parents group also highlighted that the World Health Organization and the Department of Health also repeatedly cautioned the public regarding harmful chemicals in ENDs and VNPs such as nicotine, ultra-fine particles, carcinogens, heavy metals, and volatile organic compounds. Results generated from peer-reviewed studies show that e-cigarette juices contain high levels of addictive nicotine, which can result in acute or even fatal poisoning through ingestion and other means.
‘Protect your legacy, Mr. President’
Young people also joined the calls for the president to veto the bill, saying that if President Duterte signs the Vape Bill, “it would go against his promise of guarding the nation against dangerous substances.”
“If passed into law, the Vape Bill will shatter the legacy you’ve built in the fight against dangerous substances. Verily, the Vape Bill allows the tobacco industry to have a free pass to market to vulnerable sectors of society, particularly youth and children. If you sign this bill, Mr. President, you will also deprive children and the youth of a healthy future,” said Karylle Aliswag, a young leader for tobacco control.
“In your waning days as leader of the nation, wield your power one last time, Mr. President. Heed the call of the times, veto the Vape Bill,” Aliswag called.