Press Release
March 18, 2021

E-Cigs a health issue, says Bong Go, as he calls for tougher enforcement of regulations against toxic and highly addictive substances to protect public health

Senator and Senate Committee on Health Christopher "Bong" Go called for stricter enforcement of regulations on the use, sale, and manufacturing of E-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.

During a public hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship on Wednesday, March 17, Go said he supports the decision of health experts on this issue.

"Maganda na mayroong mas mahigpit na regulasyon ang ating awtoridad na may kaugnayan sa lahat ng uri ng e-cigarettes. Suportado ko po ito -- ang mga polisiya na naglalayong mas maprotektahan ang kalusugan ng ating mamamayan sa pamamagitan ng mas mahigpit na regulasyon," he said.

The Senator also expressed support on measures to regulate products that may contain or emit potentially toxic substances or highly addictive substances which are harmful to health.

"We should not allow the unregulated use of these products and how it is easily accessed by minors. I also echo the advice of health officials and experts for the public to refrain from using vapes and e-cigarettes as the knowledge on the products is still limited," he said.

Go mentioned that he will always support measures that aim to promote the health and well-being of every Filipino.

He added that the country must strike a balance between regulating products that may be alternative to or less risky than traditional tobacco products and protecting public health, especially with the objective of preventing addiction among our youth.

"As Chair of the Health Committee, uunahin ko po ang kapakanan ng bawat Pilipino, ang kalusugan nila. Kung ang usapin ay sa pagitan ng negosyante o kalusugan ng Pilipino, pipiliin ko po ang kalusugan ng Pilipino," he said.

Discussed during the hearing were Senate Bills No. 496, or the Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Act filed by Senate President Vicente Sotto III; SBN 541 or E-Cigarette Regulation Act of 2019 filed by Senator Miguel Zubiri; SBN 1951 or Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Act filed by Senator Ralph Recto; and SBN 2099 or Vapes and HTPS Regulation Act filed by Senator Pia Cayetano.

The bills seek to regulate the manufacture, importation, sale, distribution, use, advertisement, promotion, and sponsorship of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems (ENNDS), heated tobacco products (HTPs), and other imitation tobacco products.

Go noted that President Rodrigo Duterte himself has taken a public health stance on the issue. Last year, the President issued Executive Order No. 106 which prohibits the manufacture, distribution, marketing and sale of unregistered or adulterated electronic cigarettes, heated tobacco products or HTP, and other novel tobacco products.

Under EO 106, access to electronic cigarettes and HTP has been restricted to persons over 21 years of age. The use of e-cigarettes and HTP has also been included in the nationwide smoking ban.

"Kahit noong wala pang e-cigarette, inuuna na po talaga ni then Davao City mayor Duterte ang kalusugan ng kanyang constituents kaya, noon pa, mayroon nang mahigpit na Anti-Smoking Ordinance sa Davao City," Go said.

The Senator also mentioned that the Congress has also taken a position on the matter when it passed the Sin Tax law for e-cigarettes. The law was sponsored by Senator Cayetano.

Citing data from the 2018 National Enhanced Nutrition Survey, Go said that the use of e-cigarette is prevalent among the youth.

"Ang paggamit ng e-cigarette ay masama pa rin sa kalusugan, lalo na kapag menor de edad ang gumagamit. Nakakabahala rin po na laganap ito sa kabataan," said Go.

"Nineteen percent of regular e-cigarette users are youth aged ten to nineteen years old. This is way above the regular cigarette users among the youth which is at six percent," he cited.

Go, then, urged his fellow lawmakers to study the measures thoroughly with the interest of the Filipino public in mind.

"Nararapat lang po na pag-aralan po natin ito nang mabuti. Kaya po, the Committee on Health and its members will be involved and actively participate in the discussions on the matter," Go said.

"I am also sure that our good Chair, Sen. (Ralph) Recto, will consider all factors for us to be able to come up with a meaningful legislation," he ended.

In his speech, Go also thanked committee chair and Senate President Pro Tempore Recto for inviting health advocates and tobacco control groups to the hearing, saying that the issue, as much as it involves commercial regulation, is also a health issue.

"Importante po marinig natin ang kanilang panig at mabalanse ang regulasyon at proteksyon ng ating kalusugan," he said.

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