A new bill to regulate vaping products in the Philippines is supported by the region’s vapor advocacy groups. 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,” said Loucas.
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 – they age to purchase combustible tobacco products, alcohol and get married – so the current age to purchase vaping products set at 21 was “nonsensical.” Supporting the minimum age for the purchase, sale and use of such products to 18 would bring vapor products in line with other “adult” activities and privileges.
At the same time, the advocates 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, said she is “delighted that the country’s legislators have listened,” adding that 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,” said Virgino.
Consumer groups in the Asia-Pacific region have launched a petition that urges the World Health Organization (WHO) to respect consumer rights ahead of its next biennial meeting of the WHO Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in November. They are asking for supporters to sign and share the petition at change.org/v4v-petition.