LIFESTYLE | Vape law, key to curbing illicit trade, youth access


Citing the findings of reputable public health institutions from countries, leading public health regulators, while acknowledging that smoke-free products are not entirely risk-free, concluded that they are significantly less harmful than smoking.

VAPE REGULATION. Industry stakeholders express their support for the implementation of the Vape Law, including the government’s campaign against illicit products during a medium forum hosted by Toto Ylagan (left) in Quezon City. Joining the forum are Joey Dulay (center), president of the Philippine E-Cigarette Industry Association (PECIA) and Edward Gatchalian, owner of Holy Smokes, a retailer of vape products. Source: Contributed photo

Industry groups say the Philippines’ current regulations for smoke-free alternatives like vape, heated tobacco, oral nicotine pouches and other novel tobacco products play a crucial role in protecting consumers, business owners and non-smokers particularly the youth.

“We believe and support the Vape Law because it establishes comprehensive regulations that protect consumers and promote responsible trade, particularly by ensuring the protection of minors and non-smokers,” said Joey Dulay, Philippine E-Cigarette Industry Association (PECIA) president, when asked during a media forum about the role of Vape law in regulating smoke-free alternatives.

“”The Vape Law advocates for fair trade, cracks down on substandard and illicit goods. If we adhere to these regulations, then we can maintain a trustworthy and reputable business that also protects the welfare of our customer base,” said Edward Gatchalian, owner of Holy Smokes and a member of PECIA.

Citing the findings of reputable public health institutions from countries such as the UK, US, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and Canada, the groups said leading public health regulators, while acknowledging that smoke-free products are not entirely risk-free, concluded that they are significantly less harmful than smoking.

“These innovative alternatives do not produce smoke; instead, they generate an aerosol or vapor by heating the e-liquid or tobacco. In contrast, burning tobacco releases thousands of harmful chemicals, approximately 70 of which are carcinogenic,” Dulay said.

Gatchalian said that in the UK, the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) maintains that “vapes are at least 95 percent less harmful than cigarettes.” OHID said vapes pose a “small fraction of the risks of smoking” and that “switching completely from smoking to vaping conveys substantial health benefits over continued smoking.”

According to studies, the issue with cigarette smoking lies in the smoke generated by burning tobacco. All the harmful and disease-causing chemicals reside in this smoke. Contrary to popular belief, nicotine is not the primary cause of smoking-related diseases; it’s the smoke itself.

Almost two years to the passage of the vape law, PECIA which counts around 200 active members that comprise major players in the local e-cigarette market, reiterated their strong support for the regulation and underscored its pivotal role in protecting retailers and consumers of novel nicotine products.

RA 11900, which was enacted on July 25, 2022 regulates the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use and communication of vaping products such as e-cigarettes, vapes, heated tobacco products (HTPs) and oral nicotine.

Dulay emphasized the law’s strict penalties for sellers found peddling to minors including fines and imprisonment, saying the approach not only deters illicit trade but is also a testament to the government’s commitment to safeguarding the youth from accessing these products.

The groups also highlighted the vape law’s role in shielding consumers from getting smuggled and poor-quality products that have not passed the standards set by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The Bureau of Product Standards (BPS) of the DTI previously stated during a public orientation in October 2022 that the certification ensures all products, including devices and systems, undergo thorough analysis to meet quality standards and prevent illicit trade.

The groups also welcomed the call from President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. for agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to strengthen efforts against illicit tobacco and vape smuggling.

“With the Vape Law, consumers are protected from illicit and sub-standard products. Just recently, si PBBM na mismo ang nagsabi na dapat i-beef up pa ang efforts sa smuggled at illicit na vape products. At makikita natin na masigasig ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno tulad ng DTI, BIR, at Bureau of Customs sa pagmonitor at pagpapatupad ng mga regulasyon. Halos P26M worth na illegal vapes ang na-confiscate na ng DTI,” Gatchalian noted.

Beyond consumer protection, PECIA said the vape law has significantly benefited the industry by addressing the entry of smuggled products and fly-by-night operators. According to PECIA, it has also created livelihood opportunities especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Recent initiatives by the DTI and BIR were cited as further illustration of the law’s positive impact. As of June 5, 2024, non-registered vapes and heated tobacco products are prohibited from entering the country, and manufacturers must obtain licenses from the DTI, which are publicly listed on their website. Additionally, new tax stamps for smoke-free products were introduced by the BIR, ensuring a level playing field for all industry stakeholders.

Under Sections 18 and 19 of the Vape law, all manufacturers and importers of HTP consumables, HTP devices, vapor product refills, vapor product devices and novel tobacco products are required to register with the DTI before they can sell these products to the public.




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