public health

Heated bill lowering vape access age from 21 to 18 lapses into law

Bonz Magsambol
Heated bill lowering vape access age from 21 to 18 lapses into law
Public interest law group ImagineLaw slams the development, calling it a 'betrayal of public health'

MANILA, Philippines – A controversial measure lowering the age access for vape from 21 to 18 has lapsed into law, as advocates push for vape use as an alternative for cigarettes, Malacañang said on Tuesday, July 26.

“Lapsed,” Press Secretary Trixie-Cruz Angeles told Rappler in a text message when asked about the status of the Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Act, also known as the Vape Bill.

The new law also transfers the regulation of the vape products from the Food and Drug Administration to the Department of Trade and Industry.

Before the term of former president Rodrigo Duterte had expired, the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Education (DepEd) joined health groups and advocates urging Duterte to veto the bill.

The DOH earlier said that the vape bill was “retrogressive and contains several provisions that contradict public health goals and international standards.” The agency added that vape products are harmful and not risk-free and should be regulated as health products due to their toxic substances and effects.”

Meanwhile, the DepEd had expressed it concerns, saying that at least 870,000 of basic education students are aged 18, while some 1.1 million students in senior high school are aged 18 to 21.

“We teach in schools how the part of the brain that is responsible for rational decisions does not fully develop until one is in their mid-20s. Before that age, young people are very vulnerable to engaging in risky behaviors such as substance use and abuse,” the DepEd said.

According to reports, the measure was supposedly transmitted to Malacañang last June 24, days before Duterte stepped down from his office. A bill lapses into law if the Chief Executive fails to act on it 30 days after receipt from Congress.

The Vape Bill was approved by the 18th Congress in January, but was not acted upon.

‘Betrayal of public health’

Senator Pia Cayetano said that her heart was “broken but my spirit is not.”

“I will never stop fighting for the health and well-being of the Filipinos, even against strong lobbies of industries and policymakers who choose to support their interests over the people,” she said in a statement sent to reporters.

Cayetano was on of the two senators who voted against Vape Bill. The other one was then senator Francis Pangilinan.

In a statement on Tuesday, public interest law group ImagineLaw slammed the new law, calling it a “betrayal of public health” and a “regrettable development in the face of the President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr.’s commitment to build back better.”

“The Vape Bill is anti-health and anti-youth,” said ImagineLaw Executive Director Sophia San Luis.

“During a global pandemic that attacks the lungs, building back better means protecting our health through better public health policies. We hope that the President will ensure that the Vape Bill will be implemented with our health in mind, not the commercial interests of those that pushed for its passage,” she added. –

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.