MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives passed Wednesday on second reading a bill that lowers the minimum age allowed to buy and use vapes and e-cigarettes from 21 to 18 years old.
Congress previously legislated in Republic Act No. 11467, which also imposed taxes on vapes and e-cigarettes, that the sale of these products will be limited to those aged 21 and above.
The same law also bans the sale of vapes and e-cigarettes to nonsmokers and prohibits flavorings.
But the new proposal, which is just a step away from clearing the House, largely loosens the restrictions put in place by the current law.
While flavorings are currently banned, the bill allows for “plain fruit flavors, nuts, coffee, tea, vanilla, caramel, tobacco, menthol and mint.”
It also takes away from the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate e-cigarettes and vapes and transfers it to the Department of Trade and Industry, as proponents argued that these are not health products.
The bill also allows the sale of vapes and e-cigarettes online, provided that the website will restrict access to those below 18 years old and will display signages required by the proposal.
It also allows the advertisement of vapes and e-cigarettes in retail establishments, through direct marketing and on the internet, although it qualified that these ads must not be targeted to minors, must not undermine quit-smoking messages and should not encourage non-smokers to use them.
The measure also prohibits the sale of vapes and e-cigarettes within 100 meters from a school, playground or other facility frequented by minors.
It also bans the use of vapes and e-cigarettes in all enclosed public places except in designated vaping areas.
‘Lax with the law’
Law group ImagineLaw pushed local government units and law enforcement agencies to re-introduce and strictly enforce the ban on smoking and vaping in government offices and enclosed public speakers.
“LGUs and law enforcement agencies need to re-introduce smoking and vaping ban because it seems like we are becoming lax in complying with the law,” ImagineLaw executive director Sophia San Luis said.
“The ongoing pandemic requires the reintroduction and strict enforcement of the ban on smoking and vaping in public spaces,” she continued.
San Luis said the pandemic should not be the time to relax these regulations, stressing that there is a need to boost the public’s immunity against respiratory diseases.
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