MANILA — The crusade of health advocates against a bill seeking to regulate vaping products has officially crossed the new administration following its "belated" transmission to the Office of the President (OP).
The vape regulation bill was approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives of the previous 18th Congress last January, but remained "sitting on the Speaker's table" until the 11th hour of the Duterte administration.
As a consequence of its delayed transmission to the OP, the bill was inherited by President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr.
In a press conference organized by HealthJustice Thursday, former Health Secretaries Jaime Galvez Tan and Esperanza Cabral urged Marcos to veto the bill, which, among others, puts the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in charge of regulating vapes instead of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
"The FDA and the DOH should have the final say on any and all products that impact people's health,” Cabral insisted.
"Policy-makers and the public should listen to FDA and DOH instead of industry-backed groups claiming to be health experts but are actually peddling vapes," Tan said.
Meanwhile, Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) executive director Ulysses Dorotheo cited Marcos' own argument in vetoing the bill on creating a Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone.
“The President vetoed [that] bill because it is not consistent with existing laws and fiscal reforms. The same is true with the vape bill. It is inconsistent with existing laws that already regulate these products by limiting flavors to menthol and tobacco, limiting access to those aged 21 years and above, and mandating the FDA to regulate these harmful products,” Dorotheo argued.
The groups also highlighted a recent Supreme Court ruling that asserted FDA's regulatory authority on all health products, except for acts covered by special laws.
“The broad powers of the FDA as affirmed by the Supreme Court should be used by the agency to consolidate the regulations for vapes and tobacco to ensure effective enforcement for the protection of public health," said Atty. Alexander Padilla, a former DOH undersecretary.
Health groups and advocates earlier said they are ready to bring the matter to the Supreme Court if the bill is enacted into law.
Last July 6, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said Marcos has not yet indicated his position on the controversial bill.