Duterte amends nationwide smoking ban, outlaws unregistered e-cigarettes

Three months after President Rodrigo Duterte orally banned the use and importation of vapes, e-cigarettes are now officially included in the nationwide smoking ban, as per a new executive order (EO) signed by the President.

EO 106 amends EO 26, or the nationwide smoking ban. Definitions of traditional tobacco smoking now  include electronic nicotine/non-nicotine delivery systems (ENDS/ENNDS) and heated tobacco products (HTPs), which are to be held to similar standards. 

The EO also bans the manufacture, distribution, marketing, and sale of unregistered and/or adulterated ENDS/ENNDS, HTPs, and other novel tobacco products.

The following are some of the amendments:

  • The minimum age to access both tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes is now amended to 21 instead of 18.
  • On a provision of advertising and promotion, there is a general ban on advertising ENDS/ENNDS and HTPs, and not just adulterated forms.
  • Designated Smoking Areas (DSAs) are expanded to allow vaping as well, making them Designated Smoking/Vaping Areas (DSVAs)
  • "No Smoking" signages should now include vaping. The EO includes a sample design:

Republic Act (RA) 11467 mandates the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate e-cigarettes.

Finally in writing

The Department of Health (DOH) welcomed the President’s amendments, and marked it as a “solid step” in compelling the industry to comply with regulations. An earlier administrative order that regulated e-cigarettes was met with court injunctions filed by players of the industry. 

In light of the EO signing and RA 11467, the FDA will be realigning its policy directions to ensure industry accountability. 

“They have to be enrolled in a notification scheme for traceability. Heated tobacco and similar products must undergo pre-market approval and post-market surveillance to ensure compliance with updated product safety and marketing standards. We are committed to ensure that tobacco marketing is not aimed at children,” said FDA Director Eric Domingo.

“With the President as our reliable ally in public health, and with medical associations and advocacy groups joining our campaign, our anti-smoking efforts are made stronger. However, we call on parents and communities to take active participation in campaigning against vaping and all forms of smoking to protect Filipinos – especially children – from the harmful effects of electronic cigarettes,” said health secretary Francisco Duque III.

When Duterte banned vaping in November 2019, enforcers had only EO 26 to rely on, which did not cover e-cigarettes.

Even without an executive order, police began arresting vape users and confiscating their devices. The Philippine National Police admitted that there was no case to file, and so the arrested people were released.

Duterte also recently passed RA 11467 in January, which sets excise taxes for ENDS/ENNDS and HTPs. It also prohibits flavored e-liquids apart from tobacco and menthol flavors.

The Department of Health (DOH) welcomed the President's amendments, and marked it as a "solid step" in compelling the industry to comply with regulations. An earlier DOH administrative order that regulated e-cigarettes was met with court injunctions filed by players of the industry.

The FDA will be realigning its policy directions to ensure industry accountability.

“They have to be enrolled in a notification scheme for traceability. Heated tobacco and similar products must undergo pre-market approval and post-market surveillance to ensure compliance with updated product safety and marketing standards. We are committed to ensure that tobacco marketing is not aimed at children,” said FDA Director Eric Domingo.

“With the President as our reliable ally in public health, and with medical associations and advocacy groups joining our campaign, our anti-smoking efforts are made stronger. However, we call on parents and communities to take active participation in campaigning against vaping and all forms of smoking to protect Filipinos – especially children – from the harmful effects of electronic cigarettes,” said health secretary Francisco Duque III.

Potential harm

The EO cites data from the World Health Organization that confirms ENDS/ENNDS, even in their unadulterated forms, are unlikely to be harmless.

"Long-term use is expected to increase the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, possible cardiovascular disease, as well as some other diseases associated with smoking," the provision reads.

Although there have yet to be long-term studies issued on the effects of e-cigarettes, tobacco cessation expert and pulmonologist Maricar Limpin believes that for as long as there is potential for harm, doctors are “morally obligated” to advise against the use of vape devices. (READ: E-cigarettes: 5 things to know)

The DOH has not approved e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool. (READ: Will e-cigarettes help you quit smoking?)

Below is a copy of the EO obtained by Rappler:

– Rappler.com

Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a researcher-writer at Rappler. Possessing the heart and soul of a feminist, she is working on specializing in women's issues in Newsbreak, Rappler's investigative arm.

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