By Wilnard Bacelonia
MANILA – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Friday vowed to boost its campaign against the sale of vape and e-cigarette products that are in violation of Republic Act (RA) 11900 or known as the Vape Law.
DTI Assistant Secretary Ann Claire Cabochan made the assurance during a public hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation and Futures Thinking chaired by Senator Pia Cayetano.
During the hearing, Cabochan said they have found some sellers, particularly in the National Capital Region, who continue to sell vape products in facilities within the 100-meter radius frequented by youths; with designs and flavor descriptors attractive to youths; and without the required textual warning signs.
“I think there have been 23 firms. So, a total of 16 show cause orders were already issued by the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau,” Cabochan said answering the query of Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva.
She added that the DTI had already sent official notices to regional and provincial offices of online selling platforms urging them to comply with RA 11900.
The DTI official also assured that within the first semester of the year, the agency will issue the Philippine National Standard on Novel Tobacco Products.
Villanueva had earlier expressed disappointment over the rampant selling of vape flavors with descriptors that are appealing to minors which is a clear violation of RA 11900.
“We reiterate our call, madam chair, on the concerned government agencies, especially the DTI, to give us a clear and definitive answer in these proceedings as to why the proliferation of these prohibited products was allowed. We also like an immediate resolution of this issue pursuant to the provisions of the law, even as we await the recommendations of the committee,” Villanueva said.
While presiding over the hearing, Cayetano warned the public that vape products might be more harmful than cigarettes.
“There are now studies saying that there is more lung damage to people who vape than those who smoke cigarettes. The alarm has been sounded by the United Kingdom,” Cayetano said.
Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance Executive Director Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo also warned against the direct effects of electronic cigarettes or vaporized products.
Dorotheo said nicotine and other substances adversely affect the development of the brain which controls impulse and decision making as well as feelings and emotions citing studies that said children who were born to parents who smoke have lower intelligence and emotional quotient as well as poor impulse control in their later life.
Citing the 2019 Global Youth Tobacco survey, he pointed out that 14.1 percent of Filipino students aged between 13 to 15 are currently using electronic cigarettes.
He recommended to ban anything attractive to young people, which includes vape juice flavors and additives; the introduction of standardized packaging; prohibition of sale of vape products online; increase of excise taxes on vape products; and raising the minimum age for vaping products to 25 to reduce nicotine addiction.
The committee, Cayetano said, will work with the DTI and other concerned agencies to come up with suggestions and possible amendments to strengthen the law. (PNA)