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2 House committees approve e-cigs and heated tobacco bill

/ 03:15 PM August 28, 2020
House Plenary Hall

The House joint committees on Trade and Industry and Health approved a substitute bill regulating the manufacture, sale, distribution, and use of electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs). (file photo)

MANILA, Philippines — The House joint committees on Trade and Industry and Health approved a substitute bill regulating the manufacture, sale, distribution, and use of electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs).

The substitute bill entitled the “Non-Combustible Nicotine Delivery Systems Regulation Act of 2020,” was approved with 88 affirmative votes, 10 negative and two abstentions after extensive discussions by the two congressional committees.

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The approved committee version states the need for government to regulate the manufacture, importation, sale, distribution, use, advertisement, promotion and sponsorship of electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems and heated tobacco products in order to promote a healthy environment and protect the citizens from any hazards of electronic nicotine and non- nicotine delivery systems (ENDS/ENNDS) and HTPs.

“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,” said Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, author of one of the original bills.

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The bill highlights as a policy “to consider harm reduction measures as a public health strategy by ensuring that non-combustible alternatives to cigarettes are properly regulated.”

“Despite the grim forecast of tobacco-related mortality, measures are being enforced to prevent it from worsening. Aside from the enactment of the Sin Tax Reform Law, safer alternatives to tobacco are being introduced in the Philippines,” said Rep. Sharon S. Garin.

Garin explained “the concept of “harm reduction” has gained support from Filipino advocates over the years. Harm reduction refers to policies, and actions focused on reducing health risks, usually by providing safer forms of hazardous products.”

The proposed legislation provides that the allowable minimum age for the purchase, sale, and use of e-cigarettes and HTPs is 18 years old.

Retailers will have to verify the age of all buyers by requiring the presentation of any valid government-issued identification card exhibiting the buyer’s photograph and age or date of birth.

The bills allow the online sale or distribution of these products through internet websites or via e-commerce and/or other similar media. The seller/distributor, however, must adopt measures to ensure that access to the internet website or via e-commerce and/or other similar media shall be restricted to persons 18 years old or older and that the internet website shall bear the signages required under this Act.

The measure prohibits the sale and distribution of the products within 100 meters from any point of the perimeter of a school, playground, or other facility frequented by minors.

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Product advertisements are allowed in-retailer establishments, through direct marketing, and on the internet. But “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.”

On public use, Section 14 states that the use of e-cigarettes and HTPs shall be prohibited in all enclosed public places except in designated vaping areas (DVAs). The indoor use of these products is absolutely prohibited in schools, hospitals, government offices, and facilities intended particularly for minors.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in consultation with the FDA, has been tasked to set standards for market entry notification and standards on flavors and additives used in the manufacture of e-liquids and refills, as well as on electronic components of e-cigarettes.

For HTPs, the DTI, in consultation with the Inter-Agency Committee on Tobacco (IAC-Tobacco) created by virtue of Republic Act No. 9211, shall set standards on HTPs with regard to consumables and the electronic components.

Existing industries and businesses affected by the implementation of the proposed Act shall be given an 18-month transitory period from the effectivity of the implementing rules and regulations to comply with the requirements.

/MUF
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