Public Health Advocates appeal to Congress for regulation of electronic cigarettes and tobacco products

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Public health advocates has called on Congress to uphold the public health interest with regards to electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, and tobacco products, and support the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate these products.  

“We, public health advocates, call on the Joint Committees on Trade and Health of the House of Representatives to uphold public health interest in the deliberation of the current bills that seek to regulate e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products,” said a statement from the group.

Among the organizations who signed the statement were HealthJustice Philippines, Philippine Pediatric Society,  Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development,  WomanHealth Philippines, Inc., Philippine Cancer Society,  Children International,  Rural Poor Institute for Land and Human Rights Services,  Action for Economic Reforms, Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance,  Vital Strategies, Social Watch Philippines, Child Rights Network, Parents against Vape, JCI Lakambini – Davao,  Philippine Society of Private Midwife Clinic Owners, and Millennials PH.

The group said Republic Act Nos. 11346 and 11467 are aligned with the policy pronouncements of President Rodrigo Duterte who warned against the public health impact and danger of these toxic products.

They said, to reiterate, there is categorical evidence of the adverse health effects of these products, especially in terms of respiratory and cardiovascular cytotoxicity and the permanent neurobehavioral effects of youth nicotine use.

These products are harmful and are dangerous to health, the statement read.

“Specifically, we maintain that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the government agency that should have the jurisdiction over these toxic products,” they said.  

The FDA’s power to determine and regulate the manufacture, importation, sale, packaging, advertising, promotion, and distribution, and even ban on flavorings of vapor products and heated tobacco products should be upheld, they stressed.

“The FDA and the Department of Health are the agencies which have the mandate and the expertise to ensure that regulations are consistent with our public health goals.  If we, as a nation, truly wish to prevent an epidemic that has targeted the youth, the mandate of FDA should be upheld,” the statement read.   

The group also expressed support for the existing regulations that: set the age restriction to 21; regulate on health claims; ban on the use of these products in public places and apply the Graphic Health Warning law.

These are policies which support the State’s public health goals.

“We will remain vigilant on any move to undermine or weaken the health regulations adopted in the recently passed laws designed to safeguard the public, especially the youth. We will hold accountable and expose those who seek to weaken public health initiatives in favor of the interests of an industry that have profited and continues to profit from the addiction of our youth,” said the group. /Stacy Ang

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