Gatchalian says PH needs regulatory law for e-cigarettes

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Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said a law may be needed to further regulate the sale of e-cigarettes, vapes, and other electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems in the Philippines.

Gatchalian issued the statement after the CEO of Juul Labs stepped down amid growing concern in the United States over the safety of the e-cigarette company’s products.

“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, including Juul,” Gatchalian said.

The lawmaker stressed that unlike tobacco products, e-cigarettes are made easily available and appealing to children and adolescents because of its online availability, colorful packaging, attractive flavors, and the absence of the typical tobacco odor.

“Inadvertently or not, these products are marketed in such a way that they are enticing to minors. In effect, these e-cigarette products have lured a new generation of children into nicotine addiction,” Gatchalian said.

“Also, 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. This is necessary to assure the public of the effects to their health of the chemicals or substances they ingest in their bodies,” he added.

Juul Labs claimed during a hearing by the Senate Ways and Means Committee earlier this month that its products are a “healthier” alternative that helps smokers quit tobacco.

Juul Asia Pacific president Kenneth Bishop made the claim as he argued their products should be taxed differently from other e-cigarettes, in connection with the comprehensive tax reform program’s package two plus, which proposes to increase excise tax on e-cigarettes and vapor products without any distinction as to the type of product, among others.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, has warned Juul Labs for illegally marketing its product as a safer alternative to cigarettes.

The FDA chastised Juul for making scientifically unsubstantiated claims and marketing e-cigarettes as “modified risk tobacco products,” suggesting they are safe, relatively risk-free ways to quit smoking.

There have been nine deaths in the US tied to vaping and e-cigarettes. According to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), as of September 17, there have been 530 cases of lung injury associated with e-cigarette products.

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