The Child Rights Network (CRN) has expressed grave concern over how the deliberations of the Technical Working Group (TWG), created jointly by the House of Representatives Committee on Trade and Industry and Committee on Health for the consolidation of bills seeking to regulate electronic cigarettes, are regressing.
In an 8-1 vote in favor of a lower minimum age, the TWG voted Friday to revert the minimum age for the purchase and use of electronic cigarettes from 21 to 18, with Representative Joet Garcia of the 2nd District of Bataan as the only member fighting for a higher minimum age of 25.
The Child Rights Network is the largest alliance of non-government organizations, people organizations, government agencies and international organizations working for the promotion and protection of children’s rights through legislative reform.
CRN and health advocates see this as a retrogressive move that endangers the health and future of Filipino children.
The recently enacted law imposing additional taxes on alcohol and electronic cigarettes (Republic Act 11467) has already introduced regulatory provisions, which include the minimum age for purchase and use of these devices at 21 years old.
In the Philippines, where one in five users of e-cigarettes are adolescents (10-19 years old), this regulatory provision that restricts the sale and use of the device to at least 21 years old is crucial and can save children from developing an addiction to nicotine.
CRN, the largest alliance of organizations and agencies pushing for children’s rights legislation in the Philippines, is firm in its position that regulation on electronic cigarettes must first and foremost protect the health and the future of the Filipinos, especially children.
“We call on the members of the two committees to retain the minimum age at 21 or vote for even a higher minimum age for purchase and use of these harmful devices,” the group said.
The members of the TWG who were present during the voting were Representatives Sharon Garin, Rufus Rodriguez, Ace Barbers, Alfredo Garbin, Kristine Singson-Meehan, Ciriaco Gato, Cheryl P. Deloso-Montalla, Ria Vergara, and Jericho Nograles. The TWG was co-chaired by Rep. Weslie Gatchalian, chair of the Committee on Trade and Industry, and Rep. Joet Garcia, vice chair of the Committee on Health./Stacy Ang