DOH now favors regulation of vapes, e-cigs
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.