The Philippines House Joint Committees on Trade and Industry and Health has approved a substitute bill regulating the manufacture, sale, distribution and use of electronic cigarettes.
The vape regulation bill, titled “Non-Combustible Nicotine Delivery Systems Regulation Act of 2020” passed with 88 affirmative votes against 10 negative votes, with two abstentions.
The new bill clarifies the need for government to regulate the manufacture, importation, sale, distribution, use, advertisement, promotion and sponsorship of electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems as well as heated tobacco products, with the goal of protecting citizens from potential health problems.
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, author of a previous bill regarding alternative nicotine products, said:
“Given that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the country, the sheer number of those affected by smoking combustible cigarettes raises grave concern.
“Thus, in the interest of public welfare, it is imperative that the State addresses this health issue urgently and effectively”
In a surprise to many advocates in the region, the bill explicitly highlights the authorities’ intentions “to consider harm reduction measures as a public health strategy by ensuring that non-combustible alternatives to cigarettes are properly regulated.”
Duterte then moved to ban manufacture and sale of unregistered vaping products in February of this year.
The new vape regulation legislation sets clear guidelines for retailers, requiring the use of government-issued identification cards for age verification purposes.
Retailers may still use in-store advertisements provided “these shall not be aimed at or particularly appeal to persons under eighteen (18) years of age.
“These should not undermine quit-smoking messages and should not encourage non-tobacco and non-nicotine users to use ENDS/ENNDS and HTPs.”
Online retailers can continue to operate, so long as they follow new guidelines, including features that prevent underage access.
On the matter of vaping in public, Section 14 of the bill states that use of e-cigarettes and HTPs will be prohibited in all enclosed public spaces, except for designated vaping areas (DVAs).
Vaping and HTPs will be completely prohibited in schools, hospitals, government offices and any facilities which are intended for use by minors.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in tandem with the FDA, will set standards for market entry notification, including standards on flavours and additives in e-liquids and the electronic components of vaping devices.
Existing businesses affected by the new bill are granted an 18-month transitionary period to comply with new regulations.