SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go expressed his full support for the Executive Order (EO) that regulates e-cigarettes, vapes and other tobacco products.
EO No. 106, which President Rodrigo Duterte signed, prohibits the importation, manufacture, distribution, marketing, and sale of unregistered electronic nicotine delivery systems and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems (ENDS/ENNDS), heated tobacco products (HTPs) and other novel tobacco products.
The EO also amends EO No. 26 issued in 2017 particularly on the (i) coverage as to include ENDS/ENNDS, HTPs, other novel tobacco products and their components; (ii) expanded list of prohibited acts; (iii) standards of designated smoking/vaping areas; (iv) expansion of duties of persons-in-charge; (v) expansion of the smoking cessation program to include vaping; and (vi) expansion of the mandate of the Smoke-Free Task Force to include vapes.
“Maganda na mayroong mas mahigpit na regulasyon na ngayon ang ating otoridad na may kaugnayan sa lahat ng uri ng e-cigarettes,” Go expressed in a statement.
“Bilang chair ng Senate Committee on Health, suportado ko ang mga polisiya na naglalayong mas maprotektahan ang kalusugan ng ating mamamayan. Mahalaga ang kalusugan ng bawat Pilipino at ito ang tanging puhunan natin para sa magandang kinabukasan,” Go affirmed.
The Senator, who initially spoke about recommending to the President the need to regulate e-cigarettes or vape, said that the President has already made a decision and has issued an executive order.
“Noong nakaraan, nagbigay ako ng aking stand na dapat i-regulate ‘yung vape dahil para sa akin, importante po ang kalusugan. Sa ngayon, may desisyon na po ang ating Pangulo at maglalabas na ng executive order,” Go said.
The Department of Health (DOH) has been pushing for a ban on e-cigarettes, stating that there is still no evidence to support claims that the devices do not cause harmful effects on human health nor are they a better alternative to conventional nicotine products, such as tobacco cigarettes.
Go explained that smoking, in all forms and manner, is a public health issue and it adversely affects almost everyone around a smoker, even those who do not smoke at all. He said that this poses serious health risks and anyone admitted for smoking-related illnesses, particularly those with limited financial capacity, also puts pressure on government resources related to healthcare.
According to Go, he supports the President’s decision to regulate such products as the health of Filipinos should always be a top consideration in crafting policies regarding those products. He stressed the need for the public to be more cautious in using these products because of the limited knowledge available on its potential adverse effects.
“I echo the advice of health officials and experts for the public to refrain from using vapes or e-cigarettes as the knowledge on the products is still limited,” he said.
“Klaruhin ko lang po para sa kaalaman ng publiko na ang vaping ay posibleng makasama sa kalusugan, lalo na kapag menor de edad ang gumagamit. Posibleng makasama pa rin po iyan sa kalusugan at nakakabahala rin ang epekto nito sa katabi o kasama ng gumagamit,” Go explained further.
Go expressed his concern on how the unregulated use of these products easily reach the hands of minors and posed health risks to communities.
“We will not allow the unregulated use of these products and how it is easily accessed by minors. Bibigyan natin ng importansya ang kapakanan ng kabataan at karapatan ng katabi o kasamahan na apektado na mabuhay ng matiwasay at malusog. Hinihikayat ko kayo na iwasan ang paggamit ng ganitong produkto dahil ang ganitong uri ng bisyo ay sanhi ng adiksyon at posibleng makakaapekto sa katabi o kapwa tao,” Go said.
“This is one of our priorities in the Senate and I will not hesitate to sponsor such measure that would regulate e-cigarettes in the country,” he said.
The EO also provides that all e-liquids, solutions or refills forming components of ENDS/ENNDS or HTPs shall be registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Meanwhile, all devices forming components of ENDS/ENNDS or HTPs shall be subject to the product standards imposed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and FDA. Other novel tobacco products shall be regulated by the Inter-Agency Committee-Tobacco (IAC-T).
The EO further provides that all establishments engaged in the manufacture, distribution, importation, marketing and sale of these products will be required to secure a License to Operate from the FDA.