Vape bill lapses into law despite strong opposition

·3 min read
FILE PHOTO: Consumers blows smoke while using an electronic cigarettes (vape) at a mall on June 30, 2013 in Manila, Philippines.
FILE PHOTO: Consumers smoke electronic cigarettes (vape) at a mall on June 30, 2013 in Manila, Philippines. Electronic cigarettes are gaining popularity among former heavy smokers and are increasingly turning to the vapor-based slim metal tubes as an alternative to nicotine use. The use of E-cigarettes or "Vaping", using a battery powered metal tube vaporizer to inhale nicotine infused with exotic flavors ranging from cinnamon to bubblegum have more than doubled in the past few years. Although not yet heavily regulated as tobacco, around a hundred stores catering to the rapidly expanding market have emerged. Philippine health officials have recently called for a temporary halt on the sale of electronic cigarettes pending further study and the unproven efficacy of the nicotine-based devices as well as being a dangerous gateway for minors to try smoking. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

A controversial bill lowering the age of access for vape from 21 to 18 has lapsed into law, Malacañang announced on Tuesday (July 26), much to the disappointment of lawmakers and other health advocates opposed to the said measure.

In a letter sent to Congress on Monday (July 25), Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez informed the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Senate President that the bill, more commonly known as Vape Bill, had already lapsed into law.

Senator Pia Cayetano, who had been opposing the bill since it was transmitted to the president’s desk for executive action, said that whatever glimmer of hope she felt after hearing the president’s pronouncements during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) that science will be a cornerstone of his administration paled in comparison to her “disappointment” that the 18th Congress passed the said bill and the president didn’t veto it.

“I thought this means that the Vape Bill would be vetoed, because the science clearly tells us just how harmful these products are, while medical experts have repeatedly said how the Vape Bill masquerades as a health measure, as it really pushes for de-regulation, not regulation, and harm introduction, not harm reduction,” Cayetano said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Department of Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said that while she is saddened by the bill lapsing into law, her department will continue its efforts to inform the public of the negative effects of vape and other tobacco products.

[N]akakalungkot na nag-lapse into law pero kami ay tuluy-tuloy pa rin sa Kagawaran ng Kalusugan para atin pong iparating sa ating mga kababayan ang masamang dulot ng ating vape at saka yung tobacco products natin,” she said.

(We are saddened by the bill lapsing into law but we in the Department of Education will continue our efforts to inform the public of the negative effects of vape in our body, as well as other tobacco products.)

[T]itingnan natin kung ano pa ang pwede natin uling gawin for this next Congress para maisulong pa natin ulit ang batas na ito,” she added.

(We will still see what we can do in the next Congress as to what the prospects of this law might be.)

Meanwhile, Cayetano said that while she is heartbroken, she will not stop “fighting for the health and well-being of the Filipinos, even against strong lobbies of industries and policymakers who choose to support their interests over the people.”

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.

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