July 26, 2022

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Vape measure lapses into law

A PHILIPPINE bill that lowers the minimum age for vape access has lapsed into law.

The law, which transfers the regulation of vapes and other heated tobacco products to the Trade department from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), lapsed into law on July 25, according to a copy of letter to Congress signed by Executive Secretary Victor D. Rodriguez.

A bill approved by Congress on third reading and sent to the president’s office becomes a law within 30 days of inaction. The bill was sent to Mr. Marcos’ office on June 24.

The law lowers the minimum age for people who can use vapes to 18 from 21 years. It also allows the products to be sold online.

Health authorities and advocates had been urging Mr. Marcos and his predecessor to veto the bill, saying vape regulation should stay with the FDA because it involves public health. The bill may introduce nonessential and dangerous habits to the youth, they added.

Allowing the bill to lapse into law is a “betrayal of public health” and a “regrettable development in the face of President Marcos’ commitment to build back better,” ImagineLaw said in a statement.

The group said the bill “dismantles existing measures that protect our health and protect our youth from lifelong addiction.” 

“It is a deregulation measure that will lead to a vaping epidemic among young people,” it said. “The measure is against the overwhelming medical advice of medical associations and health experts.”

The group urged Mr. Marcos not to neglect tobacco control. “We hope that the president will ensure that the Vape bill will be implemented with our health in mind, not the commercial interests of those that pushed its passage.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza