MANILA - At least two senators on Friday said they would push for the passage of bills that would "highly regulate" the sale of e-cigarettes in the country, especially after President Rodrigo Duterte issued a verbal order banning vaping in public areas.
The Senate will continue to tackle Senate Bill 1074 that would impose higher taxes on alcohol and electronic cigarettes, Sen. Pia Cayetano told reporters.
"I don't think anyone is not for taxing these sin products, it's just a question of rates," she said.
Under Cayetano's proposal, heated tobacco, e-cigarettes and other vapor products will be taxed between P10 and P60 to help government raise some P47.9 billion to finance a P59.1-billion funding gap for universal health care.
"Taxation to me is just a means, a tool to help make these products that are harmful less accessible to the vulnerable, especially the youth," said Cayetano who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
The senator is also looking at banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and either banning or restricting its advertisements.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian is, meanwhile, expected to file a separate bill to regulate the e-cigarette industry in the Philippines.
"We are already preparing a bill, which we will file soon, to regulate the packaging, advertisement, sale, and distribution of e-cigarettes in the country," he said in a statement.
"The manufacturers, distributors and sellers of these products are claiming that e-cigarettes are safer or healthier alternatives to traditional cigarettes so we need a regulatory framework to check the safety claims of the e-cigarettes that are being sold in the market," he said.
Duterte banned the use of e-cigarettes in public areas after a 16-year-old girl allegedly suffered from respiratory injuries after 5 months of vaping.
E-cigarettes can still be used inside private properties, the President said.
Malacañang has yet to issue a formal document to enforce Duterte's order. Police said those caught using vapes in public would be given a "warning" but would not be arrested.