PANAMA CITY—The Philippines introduced its legislation on vaping and other novel tobacco products as part of its anti-smoking strategy at the ongoing World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) conference.
Addressing delegates from 183 nations, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Hubert Guevara, head of the Philippine delegation to the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10), said the Philippines enacted Republic Act No. 11900, the “Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act” in 2022 to regulate vaping and other novel tobacco products (NTPs).
Guevara praised this legislation as a landmark initiative in reducing smoking-related harm, establishing comprehensive regulatory frameworks for the importation, manufacture, sale and distribution of vaping products.
The law includes provisions to safeguard minors by restricting the sale, distribution and marketing of vaping products near educational institutions and facilities frequented by minors.
He also underscored the “importance of tailored, multi-sectoral approach to FCTC implementation, acknowledging Article 1(d) of the FCTC, varying national contexts and priorities, and domestic legislation.”
“The Philippines will continue to engage constructively in dialogue and collaboration with fellow parties of this conference to overcome the various challenges in realizing the aims of the convention as part of our unwavering commitment to the WHO FCTC,” he said.
Guevara noted significant progress in FCTC implementation in the Philippines, citing data from the Philippine Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) indicating a decline in tobacco usage from 23.8 percent in 2015 to 19.5 percent in 2021.
“This key achievement is the result of a collective and balanced approach, with whole-of-society and whole-of-government efforts, in advocating for and implementing effective policies and legislative measures,” he said.
He highlighted the Philippines’ commitment to funding essential services, including healthcare and infrastructure, through excise taxes on tobacco and vaping products, which amounted to nearly $3 billion in 2022. He also noted the country’s efforts to increase excise tax rates on cigarettes and tobacco products in line with FCTC Article 6.
Guevara said that aside from the Vape Law, the Philippines is in the process of enacting the “Anti-Agricultural Economic Sabotage Act” to combat illicit tobacco trade.
The COP 10 also saw strong support for harm reduction from New Zealand, with its delegation highlighting similar strategies, including the regulation of vaping products under smoke-free legislation and investment in smoking cessation programs.
Meanwhile, the head of delegation of New Zealand, noted the substantial decline in smoking rate to 6.8 percent from 8.6 percent in the previous year and 16.4 percent in 2011-2012, with its approach also involving implementation of evidence-based harm reduction measures.
The head of New Zealand’s delegation said its approach included making a range of nicotine replacement products available to people who smoke, including therapeutic products like patches, gum and stop smoking medicines.
“We have regulated vaping products under our smoke-free legislation. This has included restrictions on where they can be sold and who can sell them, advertising and sponsorship bans, bans on vaping and smoke-free spaces, and bans on selling to those who are under the age of 18,” she said.
She said, however, that despite the low smoking rates for all groups of New Zealanders, daily smoking rates for Maori people, low-income earners, adults with disabilities and people experiencing mental distress and addiction issues are higher than others.
“To achieve 5 percent daily smoking rates for all population, we will continue to be ambitious and deliberate. In addition to our existing evidence-based tobacco control strategies, we are focused on providing people with practical tools and support to help them become smoke-free. We are investing in support for people who smoke including collaboratively-designed public health campaigns and targeted stop smoking services,” she said.
“New Zealand is proud to be party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and of the continued commitment of the parties to reduce the harm caused by tobacco products,” she said.
Delegates from 183 nations, including the Philippines, are gathering in Panama for the COP 10 to enhance and advance tobacco control and direct the future of the WHO FCTC in fighting the smoking pandemic, which kills 8.7 million people worldwide every year.