Lawmakers as youth’s ‘second parents’ should oppose Vape Bill

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday doubled down on his opposition to the Vape Bill, saying senators and congressmen must stand as second parents to the Filipino youth and keep them from anything that will harm them.

“Don’t you expect your senators and your congressmen to be second parents to your children? Kung kami hindi namin ia-allow yung mga anak namin o pamangkin o apo to do that, bakit kami magpapasa ng batas to allow them to do it?” Cayetano said at a press conference on July 20, 2022, recalling conversations he had with some parents on the campaign trail about the Vape Bill.

“I’m asking you, as a parent, would you allow your son or daughter, at 18 years old, to start vaping or e-cigs? Sabi nila, no,” he added.

Cayetano spoke at the press conference with his sister, Senator Pia Cayetano, and several medical experts and tobacco control advocates to call on government to veto the Vape Bill.

The Bill was transmitted to Malacañang on June 24, 2022 just days before then-President Rodrigo Duterte was to step down. Even if President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. does not sign it, the bill will lapse into law on July 24 if he does not veto it.

Cayetano called on the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to come out with a stand against the Vape Bill, pointing out that the Department of Education (DepEd) under former education Secretary Leonor Briones had called for the bill’s veto.

“I hope DepEd will continue to advocate this veto, I hope CHED will finally speak up, and I hope all of the religious groups who really are taking care of Filipino families would now bind together to talk about opposing the Vape Bill,” he said.

Cayetano said he opposes the provision in the Vape Bill lowering the minimum restricted age for buyers of vape products from 21 to 18, characterizing vape products as “gateway drugs” that can be dangerous to young Filipinos.

“This means that even senior high school students can buy and use vape. Just because it is less harmful, will we expose our 18 year-olds to a gateway drug?” he said.

Citing the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Cayetano said the use of any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, is categorically unsafe for young people.

The CDC has also said there is some evidence that young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.

Additionally, the CDC found that e-cigarettes can be used to deliver other drugs, including marijuana. In 2016, approximately one-third of U.S. middle and high school students who have ever used an e-cigarette reported using marijuana in the device.

Cayetano also said he opposes the transfer of regulation of vape products from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), questioning the latter’s technical capacity to vet these kinds of products.

“We are turning from protecting public health to promoting an industry or product. Besides, does the DTI even have the technical expertise and the people to determine the effects of vape on our health?” he said.

Cayetano described a veto of the Vape Bill as a step towards averting a health crisis in the country. He recalled his opposition to e-sabong franchises and former President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to suspend online cockfighting nationwide in April this year.

“We averted a moral crisis by banning internet gaming, specifically e-sabong. So let’s not sign this bill that will lead to another health crisis,” he said.

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