Philippines vape bill to stop illicit trade of cigarette alternatives, save lives


The enactment of the vape bill into law by the Philippine government will stop unintended use and the illicit trade of substandard products by regulating the manufacture, sale and use of e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products (HTPs) and other less harmful alternatives to cigarettes, according to a major business group.

The Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) called on President Rodrigo Duterte to sign the vape bill into law to stop the illicit trade of vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products and promote a level playing field between and among foreign and domestic manufacturers, importers and exporters of these products.

“As we are a staunch ally for the advancement of domestic industries, especially small and medium enterprises, FPI would like to take this opportunity to humbly urge His Excellency to enact into law the vape bill,” Dr. Jesus Lim Arranza, chairman of FPI, said in a letter to the President coursed through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on January 31, 2022.

The FPI, the largest umbrella group of 168 organizations and companies from various Philippine industries, said it supports legislation enhancing economic development and informing members and the public about economic issues and policies which affect business directions.

“By ensuring that only the Department of Trade and Industry-registered and Bureau of Internal Revenue-compliant products are allowed to be sold, advertised or distributed through lawful means, illicit trade of these products as well as their unintended use are minimized, if not totally eradicated,” the FPI said.

The Senate and the House of Representatives earlier ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the vape bill which is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 2239 or the “Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act” and House Bill No. 9007 or the “Non-Combustible Nicotine Delivery Systems Regulation Act”.

Under the vape bill, the DTI is empowered to order a recall or confiscate non-compliant products sold both online and in-store.  The BIR is also authorized to prescribe a floor price for these products.

The bill also regulates online sales, which is considered timely given the widespread shift to e-commerce from traditional trade channels, according to FPI.

“These new reforms would make it difficult for unscrupulous, unregistered, and non-tax paying traders to peddle their smuggled goods to innocent consumers. All these also guarantee correct, adequate and stable collection of taxes for the government, while at the same time safeguarding local employment and investment of legitimate industries,” the group said.

The FPI said the enactment of the vape bill will also provide a sweet spot for achieving the government’s revenue and health objectives.

It said the vape bill will save the lives of Filipino smokers with the help of less harmful alternatives.  It aims to establish clear and effective regulations on the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use and consumption of e-cigarettes and HTPs and similar products.

The bill will provide 16 million Filipinos smokers with alternatives that are considered less harmful than combusted cigarettes. 

According to the 2015 Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 76.7 percent of Filipino smokers planned or thought about quitting, but only 4 percent succeeded.   The vape bill aims to help more smokers quit.

The FPI said vaping regulations should not be more restrictive than the ones governing the sale of combusted tobacco.  “Regulations of these e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products which have indications of providing reduced risks compared to cigarettes should rightly be at parity, or at least not more restrictive than cigarettes—the leading cause of preventable death in the world,” the FPI said.

Studies by Public Health England, a leading health agency in Europe, show that vapes are at least 95-percent less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Countries such as the United Kingdom which adopted progressive policies around vaping have seen their smoking rates decline twice as fast as other nations, based on scientific studies.

In the Philippines, the FPI said the entry of less harmful alternatives would be good for public health, particularly for 16 million Filipino smokers. 

The FPI said the vape bill will also regulate a new industry that can contribute more taxes to the government while protecting minors and non-smokers.

“Our time-honored advocacy extends, not only to the welfare of Philippine industries but also to their stakeholders including adult smokers and minors,” the FPI said.

Among the vape bill’s key features are the prohibition of sale to and marketing initiatives targeting or appealing to minors, and the imposition of hefty fines and imprisonment on violators.

The vape bill prohibits the sale, advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes and HTPs within 100 meters from any school, playground or other facilities frequented by minors.

The FPI also said the enactment of the vape bill will support “economic stability and fiscal sustainability through policies that support local businesses and workers”.

“It is our desire to work hand in hand with the Office of the President to create a globally competitive Philippines grounded on effective legislation,” it said.

It endeavors to serve as the voice of Philippine industries and become an effective partner of the government in promoting and developing globally competitive Philippine industries.

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