Former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Act, also known as the Vape Bill, saying it represents a “clear and present danger” to the public.
This after the Senate and the House of Representatives on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, ratified the report of the bicameral conference committee which had reconciled the disagreeing versions of Senate Bill No. 2239 and House Bill No. 9007.
The measure will be transmitted to the President for his signature.
In a statement, Cayetano said the “dangerous piece of legislation” will promote addiction and lead to serious health problems and even death.
The former Speaker condemned a provision in the bill that seeks to transfer the regulation of vaporized nicotine products from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Cayetano warned that if the regulatory functions are moved to the DTI, the Philippines will become a laughing stock as other nations strengthen their regulations through their respective food and drugs administrations.
“This practically turns the issue of nicotine abuse from a public health concern to a money-making endeavor for the government. Simply put, the DTI does not have the same expertise and experience to regulate these products as the FDA,” he said.
The bicam version had also retained the lowering of the minimum age requirement for vape users from 21 to 18 years old, but Cayetano said this means even senior high school students will now be able to easily buy the products.
He said there is strong scientific evidence against vaping, explaining that vape devices can transmit higher concentrations of nicotine compared with cigarettes.
The former Speaker stood with former health officials as well as more than 50 medical societies, including the Philippine College of Physicians and the Philippine Medical Association, who have called on President Duterte to veto the controversial bill.
“We all know that nicotine is an addictive substance. And yet, with this law, we are allowing vaping devices to deliver much higher concentrations of nicotine than even cigarettes and other tobacco products can provide,” he said.
“This will undoubtedly make it harder for the country’s estimated 17 million smokers to quit and may in fact encourage a deeper dependence on nicotine among our kababayans,” he added.
“If we want to safeguard the health of the public over the profit of a few business owners, then this is not the way to go,” he added.
Cayetano said instead of devoting time to dangerous measures, lawmakers should focus on improving the lives and livelihood of Filipinos.
“I have always maintained that the Government must be here to do good and prevent evil. Instead of focusing on legislation that actively endangers the youth, my fellow lawmakers should instead be focusing on improving the lives and livelihoods of our kababayans. Clearly, the Vape Bill does not represent this objective,” he said.
“Again, I earnestly call on our President to continue to live up to his mission to protect the Filipino youth from anything that destroys their future,” he added.
The former Speaker also called on advocacy groups to pressure the national government to oppose the measure.
“I also encourage advocacy groups that have fought against the Vape Bill to continue putting pressure on the government to scrap this proposed law. We must prevent the opening of the floodgates of nicotine addiction in exchange for the health and even lives of the people just for the billions of pesos to be earned from vape and e-cigarettes,” he said.