Pia to vape bill proponents: stop spreading lies

The Vape Bill does not protect the youth 

By Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Sponsor, Sin Tax Reform Law of 2020 (RA 11467)

I urge the proponents of the Vape Bill to stop claiming that their measure is beneficial to the youth. That’s a blatant lie.

The proponents say that their bill “[solidifies] the provisions of RA 11467 and Executive Order 106” by strengthening the flavor ban on e-cigarettes. If that was the case, then they should have just kept the provision of the Sin Tax Law – which limits vape flavors to plain tobacco and plain menthol only.

Instead, they provided wording that allows hundreds and thousands of flavors to flood the market. How will they even regulate all these flavors? In the US, 55,000 flavors were rejected by the US FDA for failing to provide evidence that they protect public health. Kaya ba natin gawin yun dito? Eh tinanggal pa nga nila sa bill nila ang FDA bilang regulatory body sa e-cigarettes at flavors.

The youth would have been better protected if we retained the access to these harmful products at 21 years old but instead, they made it easier for the youth to access the same. The Sin Tax Reform Law of 2020 placed this at 21 years old, but the Vape Bill lowered it to 18 years old, so now even senior high school students can buy and use vapes. So where’s the ‘protection’ for the youth that the Vape Bill proponents claim? #

Senator Pia Cayetano
Senator Pia Cayetano: “I urge the proponents of the Vape Bill to stop claiming that their measure is beneficial to the youth. That’s a blatant lie.”

Unmasking the Vape Bill

Vape bill protects the interest of industry, not people

Manifestation on the Senate’s ratification of the bicameral conference committee report on the Vape Bill

By Senator Pia S. Cayetano

January 26, 2022

Mr. President, the bicameral report was read past 9:00 pm last night. And as I manifested, it was not on the agenda and therefore, I was not aware that it was going to be taken up. And I had then said that I would make my manifestation today, because at that point, it was already ratified by the time I logged on. Traditionally, we are allowed to ask the sponsor questions during the report on the bicam. But as I said, since it was already ratified, I will simply make my manifestation:

I recognize the efforts that the sponsor put into this measure. Unfortunately, it is a version that supports the industry and not the Filipino people. More than 60 health associations and civil society organizations, the Department of Health, and former health secretaries have strongly opposed this measure. In fact, time and again, since December, they have called for the veto of the measure.

For the record, during the sin tax debates in this Congress, there were colleagues and even health professionals calling for the banning of these products. But we decided to regulate the same provided that key safeguards were put in place. Those 3 key safeguards are the following: 1) FDA regulates, 2) age of access is 21 and 3) limiting the flavors to plain tobacco and plain menthol.

Barely a year after the Sin Tax was passed, the Senate started to tackle the subject bill. This measure included Senate Bill No. 2099, which I filed, and other bills that were originally referred to the Committee on Health, and yet these bills were transferred to the Committee on Trade, which went on to tackle the same.

Included in this (Committee Report) were provisions that overturned the safeguards in the Sin Tax Law. And sadly, they were passed by the Senate and carried in the bicam, which are the following:

1. Exclusive jurisdiction transferred to DTI
2. Age of access lowered to 18
3. No key restrictions on flavors

Here are the details.

On the first point, DTI, a trade agency, that has nothing to do with the healthcare of people, is given the exclusive jurisdiction over any and all issues, requirements, and subject matters related to e-cigs. Based on their mandate, DTI is responsible for investments and export promotion, industry development, and MSME development. As I have said, and will not tire of saying, nowhere in their mandate does it say that the DTI can determine the health effects of products, let alone vapor products, which are detrimental to public health. Even the industry cannot say… Thousands of flavors were rejected by the US FDA. Does the DTI have the political will or the expertise to do the same? To reject flavors that will be proposed to be carried in the market? We know very well that their mandate is to promote business. I submit that they will not have the political will nor the capacity to regulate the flood of flavors that we will be exposed to and our young children.

On the second point, the minimum age of sale and purchase is now pegged at 18 years of age. These products will now be accessible even to senior high school students. According to experts, the brain continues to mature until the age of 25, and that early exposure to nicotine through vapor products could impair the brain’s development.

On the third point, other flavors are still allowed. Despite the restrictions on the descriptors, we know very well that the wide array of flavors will make the product more attractive especially to the youth.

So those are the 3 main points, your honor, that were carried in the bicameral report that we continue to oppose. Changes in the bicam report that further relax regulation on e-cigs. These are but a few examples, your honor:

Sponsorships are now allowed even beyond industry associations and trade events.

In the version of the Senate, which was our proposal, originally sponsorships were only limited in industry associations and trade events. This was our specific amendment to address events being targeted to all and not just to those who are already within the vaping industry. Now, it will be open to all.

It also allows companies to conduct corporate social responsibility related activities. Mr President, under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Principle 6, Corporate Social Responsibility activities should be prohibited. We are now in clear violation of an international agreement that we have historically honored.

Let me end with this Mr President.

As we honor and throw our support behind the efforts of our health workers with the right hand, with our left hand, we are giving a free pass to a line of products that directly affects our health. It boggles the mind that as we deal with over 5.63 Million deaths around the world and more than 53,000 deaths in the Philippines due to COVID, we allow this industry to promote their products touted as a lesser evil by the industry and its proponents.

I will not be a party to a bill that is masquerading as a health regulation. As I said, over 60 health associations and civil society organizations, the Department of Health, and former health secretaries have expressed strong opposition to this measure and continuously warned us about these products and the need to regulate the same by the one agency tasked by our laws, to ensure that products that affect our health are regulated. That is the FDA. Not the DTI.

Once again, I must state for the record that I disassociate myself from this measure. Thank you, Mr. President. #

“I will not be a party to a bill that is masquerading as a health regulation,” stressed Senator Pia S. Cayetano as she manifested her opposition to the bicameral version of the Vape Bill that was adopted by the Senate.

Pia’s advice to fellow parents: safeguard your kids against vapes, e-cigarettes

Following the passage of the Sin Tax Law that substantially raises taxes on electronic cigarettes, Senator Pia S. Cayetano appealed to fellow parents to safeguard and educate their children from the dangers of picking up “these new dangerous vices” that seem to be targeting the youth.

“This is my call to all Filipino parents, please (discourage your children from) using these heated tobacco products (HTPs) and vapes. These devices are harmful to their health,” said the senator, who sponsored the sin tax measure in the Senate as Chair of the Ways and Means Committee.

The senator had initially pushed for higher tax rates on HTPs and vapes, citing evidence from health experts that such products could not be considered as effective cessation devices, and that they could cause harm to non-smokers and the youth.

“I based my position on [scientific evidence and] the recommendations of health advocates, no less than the World Health Organization (WHO), that we treat these e-cigarettes and HTPs equally as if they are cigarettes,” she stressed during a press conference with sin tax advocates on Tuesday (January 28).

“It is my job to veer on the side of safety. That ‘s why the position I’ve always taken is, unless there is convincing evidence that these are truly cessation products, and that these companies are willing to register them as such, then we should treat them as harmful products,” Cayetano added.

On this note, the senator reiterated her call for young Filipinos and non-smokers to avoid using e-cigarettes, HTPs, and vapes, as these could cause serious damage to their health.

“I call on all our young people. I will never get tired of reminding you that these products – HTPs, ENDS/ENNDS (Electronic Nicotine/Non-Nicotine Delivery Systems), and vapes – can be dangerous to your bodies. We don’t want you to take on these brand new vices,” Cayetano stressed.

Meanwhile, the senator expressed commitment to work with fellow legislators, other government agencies, and advocacy groups in assessing and strengthening the country’s smoking- and drinking-cessation programs. #

File photo: Senator Pia Cayetano holds a press conference with health advocates to push for the passage of higher excise taxes on e-cigarettes.

After sin tax passage: Pia seeks comprehensive approach vs binge drinking, smoking

Following the landmark passage of the Sin Tax Reform Law last week, Senate Ways and Means Chairperson Pia S. Cayetano said she will push for a more comprehensive approach to continue protecting Filipinos’ health and well-being.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed into law last January 22 Republic Act No. 11467, which imposes heavier tax rates on alcohol, heated tobacco products (HTPs), and vapor products.

“Part of the task is to get this law signed. We now have accomplished that. I thank all of the [health] advocates and everybody who spent so much time in helping us see this through,” Cayetano said during a press conference in Intramuros on Tuesday (January 28).

The senator in particular thanked her colleagues in Congress for supporting the provision under the law that mandates the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate e-cigarette products.

RA 11467 provides for the establishment of a framework for the regulation of HTPs & vapes by the FDA, including banning the sale to non-smokers and persons below 21 years old.

“One of the successful provisions that we have been able to include in this law is for the FDA to regulate these products. And I am very happy about that… We have now provided the legal mechanism for FDA to take the lead,” she stressed.

“The challenge is now with them. And I implore upon all the stakeholders, both on the side of the advocates and the industry, to support FDA to allow them to do their job,” she added.

Meanwhile, Cayetano said the campaign to protect Filipinos from the dangers of sin products should not stop with imposing higher taxes. Taxation, she noted, should be complemented by a comprehensive public health strategy.

“The journey is not over because the effectivity of the law is in its implementation,” she said.

The senator then expressed her commitment to work with her fellow legislators as well as with government agencies and advocacy groups to assess and strengthen the country’s smoking- and drinking-cessation programs.

“I would like to work with our Committee on Health in the Senate and our counterparts in the House to strengthen our existing regulations and, to the extent necessary, [implement] new laws for the protection of our youth against these harmful products – alcohol, HTPs, and vapes,” she stressed.

“I am also calling on the education and health departments, community officials, and parents, [to guard the youth against e-cigarette products]… It is supposed to be for those who want to shift from cigarettes to another product. It is not there to encourage the youth to take on a brand new vice,” the senator concluded. #

Sen Pia Cayetano on e-cigarettes: It is supposed to be for those who want to shift from cigarettes to another product. It is not there to encourage the youth to take on a brand new vice.
Signed into law last January 22, Republic Act No. 11467 imposes heavier tax rates on alcohol, heated tobacco products, and vapor products.

Pia welcomes President’s signing of the Sin Tax Law

We welcome President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s recent signing of the Sin Tax Reform Law, which raises the excise taxes imposed on alcohol and e-cigarette products.
The enactment of this measure is a manifestation of the administration’s full commitment to its mandate of protecting public health and welfare.
As Chairperson of the Ways and Means Committee, I had pushed for substantially higher sin tax rates under my sponsored Senate bill, to be able to meet the funding requirements for universal health care and to effectively deter the consumption of these harmful products.
Nonetheless, I remain confident that the law’s passage is a good step forward to discourage Filipinos, especially the youth, from taking up dangerous vices, thereby guiding them towards making healthier lifestyle choices.
Moreover, the revenues to be collected from this measure will go a long way in ensuring our people’s access to free and quality health care services. I thank our colleagues in the DOH and DOF, Congress, and pro-health allies for contributing to this landmark legislation. #
Cayetano: The law’s passage is a step forward to discourage Filipinos, especially the youth, from taking up dangerous vices, including drinking and vaping.