DOH now fa­vors reg­u­la­tion of vapes, e-cigs

The Philippine Star - - FRONT PAGE - By EDU PUNAY

From push­ing for a to­tal ban, the Depart­ment of Health (DOH) and Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FDA) are now will­ing to go along with the reg­u­la­tion of elec­tronic cig­a­rettes and va­p­ing prod­ucts.

At the start of House de­lib­er­a­tions on bills seek­ing reg­u­la­tion of elec­tronic nico­tine de­liv­ery sys­tem (ENDS) prod­ucts, FDA di­rec­tor Ana Trinidad Rivera told law­mak­ers that the agency and the DOH now sup­port the pro­posal to only par­tially ban the sale and use of vapes to smok­ers aged 24 and be­low.

“There is a need to es­tab­lish sound reg­u­la­tory strate­gies to pro­tect pub­lic health... We must pro­hibit ac­cess to vapes by young peo­ple and al­low it only to those 25 years of age,” the of­fi­cial said at the joint hear­ing of the com­mit­tees on trade and in­dus­try and on health.

Tak­ing a cue from the Pres­i­dent, the DOH had

pushed for a to­tal ban on vapes in the coun­try.

Health Un­der­sec­re­tary Eric Domingo ear­lier bat­ted for a to­tal ban on ENDS af­ter an­nounc­ing the first prob­a­ble e-cig­a­rette and vape-caused lung in­jury (EVALI) case in the coun­try last month.

“All e-cig­a­rette users should seek im­me­di­ate med­i­cal help and ask their doc­tors for ways to quit these harm­ful prod­ucts. I urge non-users not to even try e-cig­a­rettes at all,” he stressed.

Apart from strin­gent reg­u­la­tion on sale and use of ENDS, the FDA also sought manda­tory graphic health warn­ing on pack­ages of vapes as well as pro­hi­bi­tion on ad­ver­tise­ments of the prod­ucts with the youth as tar­get.

The Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try (DTI), for its part, is also push­ing for strict reg­u­la­tion of ENDS.

DTI Un­der­sec­re­tary Ruth Castelo told law­mak­ers that vapes and e-cig­a­rettes should be reg­u­lated the same way as com­bustible to­bacco is reg­u­lated by gov­ern­ment. Their use by and sale to mi­nors or those 17 years old and be­low should be banned, she said.

The joint panel is set to con­tinue de­lib­er­a­tions on the is­sue on Dec. 10.

The law­mak­ers are also ex­pected to look into the case of the 16-year-old girl in the Visayas doc­u­mented by the DOH as the coun­try’s first prob­a­ble case of EVALI.

Sev­eral law­mak­ers have filed bills seek­ing reg­u­la­tion on ENDS.

One of the bills is HB No. 40 filed by Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Bi­a­zon, which specif­i­cally seeks to ban the sale and use of ENDS prod­ucts to mi­nors in the coun­try.

Surigao del Norte 2nd district Rep. Robert Ace Bar­bers filed HB 5310 seek­ing reg­u­la­tion of ENDS in­stead of a to­tal ban.

“It has been proven con­clu­sively that to­bacco is harm­ful. Yet no gov­ern­ment in the world has banned it, even as it has cost gov­ern­ments bil­lions of dol­lars in re­sources try­ing to treat the af­fected peo­ple. Re­sources which could have been used else­where. Now here comes a prod­uct which takes smok­ers away from to­bacco and has proven to be less harm­ful, yet we take the side of ban­ning it? Let us take it slowly,” he ar­gued.

Bar­bers, chair of House com­mit­tee on dan­ger­ous drugs, cited sci­en­tific stud­ies done in the United King­dom and other ad­vanced coun­tries show­ing how vapes are less harm­ful than com­bustible cig­a­rettes.

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