Press Release
July 21, 2022

Highlights of the joint press conference of doctors and Senators calling for the veto of the Vape Deregulation Bill


* Principal sponsor, Sin Tax Law of 2020 (RA 11467)

* One of two senators who voted against the Vape Deregulation Bill in the 18th Congress

This issue is very important to me and I know that time is of the essence. And that's why we called for this presscon at the last minute. The reason for this press conference is to ensure that the President is properly informed about the Vape Bill.

The proponents of the Vape Bill claim that this Vape Bill is important, supposedly because of the following:

* The need to regulate versus banning;

* Revenue generation; and

* Opportunity for smokers to quit

But the truth is, all of these reasons they mentioned can be achieved without the Vape Bill. Yung issue ng banning and regulation, tapos na yung issue na yun. Congress already decided to regulate, and not to ban.

So when I read in the news advocates of the Vape Bill saying, "kasi wag tayo mag-ban," [my reaction was] tapos na ang laban na yun. Nalibing na ang laban na yun. We are already regulating e-cigarettes, and the key regulation is already contained in the Sin Tax Law of 2020 (RA 11467).

Tungkol naman sa revenue generation, tapos na rin yun, ginawa ko ang trabaho ko: I was Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means [in the 18th Congress]. Secretary Dominguez of DOF took the lead role in determining this, and we are collecting taxes on the sin products, including the vapes and e-cigs. So huwag n'yong sabihin na kailangan ng Vape Bill to generate revenues because ginagawa na po ngayon yun.

And third, on the opportunity for smokers to quit - the doctors will explain that further. Pero, the important thing is, doon sa mga gumagamit, [dapat] ma-regulate nang maayos para hindi naloloko ang tao na nakakabuti yun sa kanila, and ang mga bata, hindi naman maging first-time users.

What the proponents of the Vape Bill do not say in public is that they don't like the Sin Tax Law. Gusto nilang baliktarin ang Sin Tax Law. The Sin Tax Law contains the three protective measures that we put in place. Kasi ang debate namin dati ganito, i-ban katulad ng Singapore, Thailand, and a few others. So we had that debate [and we agreed na] i-regulate na lang para may pera din na pumapasok, may revenues ang government, and at the same time, hindi magkaroon ng black market. Papasok din naman sa Pilipinas, eh di regulate na lang, i-tax yan. So yun ang naging desisyon. And in the Sin Tax Law, we put the following protective measures:

* 21 years old pataas lang ang pwedeng gumamit. My brother, Alan will explain that further later kasi alam ko advocacy niya ang mga kabataan;

* Limited the flavors to plain tobacco and plain menthol. Alam niyo naman ang nangyari sa US di ba? Lahat ng klaseng flavors - unicorn, rainbow, lahat na - very attractive to the youth. So under the Sin Tax Law, [limited to] plain tobacco and plain menthol lang;

* And finally, the jurisdiction and regulation is under the FDA. Why? It's very clear: Food and Drug Administration. Sabi ng batas na yun, anything that is harmful to health will be regulated by the FDA.

That is a law that I passed in 2009 [RA 9711], and the Supreme Court very recently upheld it. Sinabi [ng SC na] FDA ang talagang magre-regulate ng lahat ng harmful sa katawan, including tobacco. Sinabi na ng SC yun.

So this is what the Sin Tax Law contains, and kaya gusto ng proponents ang Vape Bil kasi tinatanggal lahat yan. Sa Vape Bill, ginawang 18 years old, ina-allow ang iba't ibang flavors, at ginawa nilang 'health authority' ang Department of Trade and Industry. Saan naman kayo nakarinig, saang bansa na ang DTI ay may kinalaman sa kalusugan ng tao? Dito po sa Pilipinas! Yan ang nasa Vape Bill.

At yan ang gusto nating maliwanagan ang ating Presidente because he is new, and I acknowledge na when you are new in the office, sa dami ng problema, pwedeng hindi pa niya nalaman lahat ito. Sana po during this press conference, mabigyan natin ng tamang impormasyon ang Presidente para makagawa siya ng tamang desisyon.

And on that note, ilalagay natin on record na in the past administration, the secretaries of various agencies - Cabinet members - supported the veto of this bill.

DOH and FDA ang nanguna d'yan. Si then DepEd Secretary Briones, nagsulat ng position paper urging the President to veto this bill because makakasama nga sa kabataan. And the Department of Finance. So kung pinag-iisipan ng proponents na revenue generation, no less than the Secretary of Finance of the previous administration recommended the veto kasi alam niya hindi kailangan nitong Vape Bill para mag-generate ng income para sa gobyerno. Andoon na yun sa Sin Tax Law.

There is also another procedural issue that is constitutional. Nakakapagtaka na pinasa namin ito noong January, and if you recall, these doctors were with me a month ago [in an earlier press conference held June 23 in the Senate], hindi pa nata-transmit sa office ni President Duterte [ang Vape Bill] at that time.

And then months later, three days before the term of President Duterte ended, saka pa lang na-transmit [ng House of Representatives sa Office of the President]. May kalokohan talaga. And this will raise constitutional issues na siguro naman, ang bagong Presidente natin, kabago-bago ng term niya, [ayaw n'yang] may constitutional issue kaagad, 'di ba?

So I will end my statement here by simply appealing: Mr. President, veto this bill, allow your secretaries to study them on their own with the proper timing. But for now, the right thing to do is to veto the Vape Bill. Maraming salamat po.#


* Executive Director, Southeast Asia Tobacco Alliance (SEATCA)

Some doctors claim na ang bill ay makakabuti sa kalusugan ng mga Pilipino. But from a population perspective, based on hundreds of studies, the summary is [e-cigarettes] are not helpful for quitting. The majority of smokers become dual smokers. Mataas din ang chance to relapse [to smoking cigarettes]. Those are the basic lessons from existing evidence.

Smoking is very harmful kung ikukumpara sa ibang bagay. [Pero] walang ebidensya that vapes are significantly less harmful. Studies show it is significantly harmful. This should be regulated by the FDA, not DTI.

Paurong ang [Vape Bill], meron nang existing law [RA 11467] that regulates vapes effectively. How does lowering age protect youth? Industries promoting vapes are the same ones manufacturing cigarettes.

Doctors supporting the Vape Bill have never been involved in tobacco control regulations. Bakit sila ngayon lumalabas? It is really bad for the health of Filipinos.#


* President, Philippine Heart Association

The Philippine Heart Association is one of many medical associations calling for the veto of the Vape Bill. Cardiovascular systems are the number one cause of death among Filipinos. Vape is associated with 34% more likely to have a heart attack, 25% coronary artery disease, 55% depression and anxiety.#


* Head, Task Force on Environmental Hazard, Philippine Academy of Pediatric Pulmonologists

Nicotine will affect the part of the brain for memory and higher learning. Our brain is not fully developed until 25. That's why we want 21 years old as the minimum age of access to vapes. Vape is the gateway to traditional smoking, marijuana, and excessive drinking.

Kayo na may mga anak pamangkin, I'm sure ayaw niyo sila malulong sa vices. Mr President, whatever laws you plan for the country will be for your children too. Sana sa SONA, isa sa sasabihin is veto the Vape Bill.#


* Legal Consultant, Health Justice Philippines

We stand for a state policy na kailangan strict regulation. Masama [ang vapes] sa kalusugan, lalo na sa kabataan. May mga batas na po, sapat na po ang Sin Tax Law. May policy na rin, EO 106 prohibiting vapes in public places.

Ang bagong Vape Bill ay pag-reverse ng gains ng tobacco control regulations in the past years.

Sana po sa SONA, bigyan ng regalo ang buong bayan na na-veto Vape Bill, and consider this as a health policy, and hindi bigyan ng chance ang commercial interest in tobacco industry.#

VI. DRA. MARICAR LIMPIN (attended online)

* Executive Director, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance-Philippines (FCAP), Philippine College of Physicians

Appealing to veto in its entirety the Vape Bill

FDA [is mandated] to protect health, particularly against products that affect health. Importante masiguro na tamang ahensya ang mag-regulate [ng e-cigarettes], not DTI, whose function is primarily on trade. It's not a trade issue, but a health issue. The recently issued decision of SC reaffirmed FDA's constitutional mandate.

By lowering the age of access, [the Vape Bill] allows the young to be introduced to nicotine addiction. With the removal of the restriction on flavors, mas mae-engganyo ang mga bata na gumamit ng vape.

Mr. President, do not listen to the tobacco industry, to the few doctors who do not know ang tunay na dahilan kung bakit gusto namin ma-veto ang Vape bill na ito. It is not true na walang regulation.

Ang habol natin ay tunay na regulasyon. We are appealing to you to please protect the children. I hope that you will listen to us. We are telling you the science. I hope you listen to the science.#

VII. DR. ANTONIO DANS (attended virtually)

* Co-Convenor, Health Professionals Alliance against COVID-19

Under the Duterte administration, DOH supported a veto of this bill, alongside DOST through the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST).

Very few doctors support this bill. They claim that the Vape Bill will make vapes available to millions of smokers. Hindi po ito totoo. The Vape bill is already available in malls, etc. It has been made available not just to smokers - but even to non-smokers.

When you make vapes more available to non-smokers, there is clear and present danger. Studies show 3 effects: 100% increase in risk of smoking in the future; 350% increase in chance that you will take excessive alcohol; 500% chance that non-smokers will engage in use of illicit drugs such as marijuana

The Vape Bill is a 'deregulatory' bill. It is not harm reduction, but harm introduction.#

VIII. DR. BENITO ATIENZA (attended virtually)

* Immediate past president, Philippine Medical Association (PMA)

Nakikiusap po ako sa mamamayan na maniwala sa expert na doctors.

Dapat mapag-aralan ng Pangulo ang epekto ng [Vape Bill] sa kabataan. May mga batas na. Ang kailangan natin at police power at political will to support the fight against vapes.

Nakikiisa kami sa DOH, FDA, DOH para ma-veto ang Vape Bill.#


* Supported the passage of RA 11467 as Speaker of the House in the 18th Congress

Thanks to Senator Pia for almost single-handedly leading the battle against the Vape Bill in the Senate. [My appeal is let us] follow the science and listen to the doctors. Nagtataka ako nung dumating ang batas na ito: bakit ayaw makinig sa mga doktor?

Why veto the Vape Bill? (presented slides)

This is not the first regulation bill, yun ang deception na pinapairal. This bill is a very bad bill.

I hope CHED (Commission on Higher Education) will speak up, I hope all of the religious groups will bind together to talk about this.

DTI's function is to promote an industry or product. [If this bill gets passed] the government [will now say] let's promote vapes, rather than [ensure] it is safe.

Expect na kapag naging batas ito, lahat ng nababagalan sa FDA will now lobby with Congress na ilipat na sila sa DTI. This is the start of the death of FDA kasi kung pwede naman ang vape na DTI, bakit hindi pwede ang food, o paracetamol? Ganun ang magiging logic.

[We should take note that the] US FDA blocked thousands of flavors of e-cigs.

Global Youth Tobacco Survey: 110% increase in vape use among Filipino youth in the last four years

Napakadaling sabihin na it's less harmful, but the whole story is it is still very harmful.

Masyado nang maraming crisis ngayon. Tulong-tulong muna. The President comes from a tobacco growing region... let us form a coalition that will support him when he vetoes this.

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