Duterte urged to veto vape bill

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MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) is hopeful that President Duterte will veto Senate Bill 2239, also known as the Vape Regulation Bill, before stepping down from office on June 30.

“I am concerned with this vape bill because our end goal is that it will not be enacted into law,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum yesterday.

According to the latest information that he received, Duque noted that Congress has yet to submit the bill to the Office of the President (OP).

“We will just have to wait what happens next, but I doubt that the President will even sign that bill,” he added.

The outgoing health chief revealed that he is in constantly communicating with the OP and he is hopeful that the proposed bill will not be approved into law.

Duterte has been urged by an alliance of vape consumers and retailers to sign the Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act, which they claimed would generate billions in taxes for the government.

The group also said that vaping would help smokers quit using the more harmful tobacco.

However, Duque debunked the vapers’ alliance’s claim, stating it will not stand the scrutiny of science.

Referencing foreign studies, he stated that vape users are at a higher risk of contracting serious COVID-19 and are far more prone to engage in regular smoking and other vices.

Health experts from 59 medical groups have reaffirmed their request for Duterte to veto SB 2239.

Former Philippine Medical Association president Minerva Calimag stated that they hope that Duterte will veto the bill because it undermines his efforts “to protect Filipinos, especially the youth, from the harm of tobacco.”

“Long-term use of adulterated and even unadulterated electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems produce aerosols that increase risk of lung cancer and chronic lung ailments,” Calimag added.

She also warned that nicotine causes damage to the heart, among others.

“What is alarming is sometimes, it takes time for the effects of vaping to manifest, but we are already seeing patients who are suffering from these effects,” she said.

The Congress’ bicameral conference committee ratified the bill last Jan. 25. However, after 150 days, it has yet to be submitted to the OP.

According to Former Philippine Society of General Internal Medicine president Antonio Dans, they suspect that this is a delaying tactic by the tobacco industry to ensure that the bill is transmitted before the end of Duterte’s term.

They hope Duterte will not permit the bill to lapse into law by default by not vetoing it, Dans added.

Dans also called on some doctors who are peddling misinformation to favor the tobacco industry.

“It is not true that the vape bill will not make vapes available to smokers because it’s already available,” he said.

The expert stressed that it is also not true that they want to ban vaping; rather, they want to “regulate and implement existing laws” both cigarette smoking and vaping.

“It is also not true that it causes harm reduction. It causes harm introduction, especially to the young,” he said.

House committees to hold hearings during break

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Spread the loveMANILA – The House of Representatives has authorized for its committees to conduct hearings during the five-week congressional break, extending until late April.