Two standing House committees approved on Thursday a substitute bill regulating the manufacture, sale and use of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.
Entitled as the proposed “Non Combustible Nicotine Delivery System Regulation Act of 2020,” the measure was approved by the joint House Committees on Trade and Industry and on Health.
Voting 88-10 with two abstentions, the joint committees declared as a matter policy for the State to protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.
“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 address this health issue urgently and effectively,” said Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, author of one of the original bills.
Section 6 of the bill provides that the minimum allowable age for the purchase, sale and use of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products shall be 18 years old. Retailers shall 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.
All manufacturers, importers and distributors of these products are required to place health warnings on the principal display surface with the text: “This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance. It is not recommended for use by non-smokers”; or “This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance.”
They are also required to “display other applicable graphic health warnings to be prescribed by the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health in the implementing rules and regulations of this Act.”
The sale or distribution of these products within one hundred (100) meters from any point of the perimeter of a school, playground or other facility frequented by minors shall be prohibited.
On product communication restrictions, Section 11 provides that advertisements shall be allowed in retailer establishments, through direct marketing, and on the internet. 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 e-cigarettes and HTPs. These should not contain any information that is untrue in particular with regard to product characteristics, health effects risks or emissions.
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. 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, 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 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.
Rodriguez said on top of public health concerns, regulation needs to balance factors such as revenue generation, trade and commerce, job creation, protection of minors and non-smokers, public safety against sub-standard products, interest of tobacco farmers and other stakeholders.