SC landmark ruling a victory for Filipinos, youth

By Senator Pia S. Cayetano

  • Principal sponsor, RA 7911
  • Intervenor, GR 200431 (DOF and FDA as petitioners, Cayetano and Drilon as petitioners-intervenors vs. Philippine Tobacco Institute, Inc. as respondent)

The Supreme Court just affirmed the right of every Filipino to good health by upholding the power of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate cigarettes and tobacco products. This is a major victory for our people and advocates for tobacco control and public health.

Thirteen years ago, I sponsored and defended what became the FDA Act of 2009. RA 9711 mandated the FDA to regulate all products affecting health, including cigarettes and tobacco. The tobacco industry rejected FDA’s authority, and went to court to prevent the FDA from regulating them.

The health hazards of tobacco cannot be denied, and are backed by strong medical evidence. It is common sense that these products be subjected to strict regulation by a competent health authority.

After a long judicial process, the SC has ruled in our favor by affirming FDA’s jurisdiction over cigarettes and tobacco products. As principal sponsor of RA 9711 and later, as an intervenor in this case along with Sen. Franklin Drilon, I laud our SC for this landmark decision.

This win is for the Filipino people and will benefit future generations. It may have taken 13 years, but it’s these victories that remind me to keep fighting the good fight. It’s what makes my job worthwhile.

This triumph wouldn’t have happened without the guidance and support of my fellow health advocates, including the late health secretary, Dr. Alberto ‘Quasi’ Romualdez.

It is my hope that the incoming administration will continue to strengthen our health systems, and ensure that all harmful and potentially harmful products that should fall under the ambit of FDA’s authority are duly regulated to safeguard public health. #

“Sabon nga FDA-regulated. Ang yosi, bakit hindi?” Senator Pia S. Cayetano went to the Supreme Court to file her motion to intervene in the DOH and FDA case against the Philippine Tobacco Institute to uphold the FDA Law of 2009. (File photo: April 11, 2013)
“This triumph wouldn’t have happened without the guidance and support of my fellow health advocates, including the late health secretary, Dr. Alberto ‘Quasi’ Romualdez.” – Senator Pia Cayetano (File photo: November 19, 2012)

NOTES:

Senator Pia Cayetano’s reaction to a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court (GR 200431), which upholds the validity of the rules and regulations implementing RA 9711, or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Act of 2009, and recognizes the continued regulatory authority of DOH and FDA over cigarettes and tobacco products.

Senator Pia is the principal sponsor in the Senate of RA 9711. She was also an intervenor in the Supreme Court (SC) case, along with Sen. Franklin Drilon. Their motion for intervention was filed on April 11, 2013.

The SC decision was issued on July 21, 2021 and promulgated on June 7, 2022. A copy of the ruling was received by the Cayetano Sebastian Ata Dado & Cruz Law Office on June 9, 2022. 

Uphold FDA’s regulatory authority over vapes, heated tobacco products

Senator Pia S. Cayetano has called on her colleagues in the Senate to uphold the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)‘s jurisdiction to regulate vapes and heated tobacco products (HTPs) in the market, saying that the agency’s mandate to protect public health is firmly established in two laws previously passed by Congress in 2020 and 2009.

In her interpellation on the controversial Vape Bill (SBN 2239) last week, Cayetano questioned the bill’s objective to transfer the government’s regulatory power over vapes and HTPs from the FDA to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Explaining the coverage of health products under the FDA’s jurisdiction, Cayetano noted that the FDA Law of 2009 included “health-related devices,” which refer to “any device not used in health care, but has been determined by the FDA to adversely affect the health of the people.” (Section 9-C of RA 9711).

“I think it is quite clear that in his previous statements, when his honor says that this product [e-cigarette] is ‘less harmful,’ then that is already an admission that it is a product that has health effects. Because why would you even mention the words ‘more harmful.. less harmful,’ if it’s not a health-related product?” Cayetano asked the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ralph Recto.

“Moreover, if lotions, creams, and perfumes applied on the skin and other cosmetic products that come in contact with external parts of the body are regulated by the FDA, then what more for e-cigarettes, which are inhaled  by its users, sending harmful chemicals to the lungs and internal organs?” the senator further asked.

She also noted that under the Sin Tax Law of 2020, the FDA is clearly mandated to regulate, consistent with evolving medical and scientific studies, “the manufacture, importation, sale, packaging, advertising, and distribution of vapor products and heated tobacco products,” including the “sale to nonsmokers or persons below twenty-one (21) years old.” (Sections 144-B and 144-C of RA 11467)

In addition, she said that the FDA Law declared as policy that the State shall “protect and promote the right to health of the Filipino people,” and “help establish and maintain an effective health product regulatory system based on the country’s health needs and problems.” (Sections 3-A and 3-B of RA 9711)

The senator pointed out that Sen. Recto’s statements that e-cigarettes are ‘less harmful’ than conventional cigarettes amounted to a health claim, and an admission that these products are indeed ‘health-related devices’  that clearly fall under FDA’s jurisdiction as mandated by RA 9711.

Cayetano’s interpellation on SB 2239 is scheduled to resume this week.#

Senator Pia Cayetano
Solid legal ground: Senator Pia Cayetano says that FDA is mandated to regulate e-cigarettes by virtue of RA 11467 and RA 9711.