By Mario Casayuran
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Health said on Saturday that he would recommend to President Duterte the issuance of an executive order regulating the manufacture, distribution, sale, and use of all types of electronic cigarettes.
The order, should it be issued by Malacañang, is needed by the Department of Health whose administrative order regulating the distribution of e-cigarettes has been temporarily stopped by a court in Pasig City on petition of a firm affected by a DOH memorandum, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, committee chairman, said.
Go said he is disturbed by reports that a young girl in Central Visayas probably became the first victim of e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI).
In Saturday’s DWIZ radio interview, Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” M. Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, said minors should be banned from smoking electronic cigarettes.
Go said the DOH is still trying to determine whether e-cigarettes could be considered the “probable cause” of the young girl’s lung troubles.
He, nevertheless, echoed DOH Secretary Francisco Duque’s advice for users to refrain from using vapes or e-cigarettes as the knowledge on the products is still limited.
“I want to make it clear that vaping could possibly harm one’s health. They may say it is ‘less harmful’ than cigarette smoking, it is possible that it could negatively affect one’s health and the person near you,” Go said in Filipino
As the health of Filipinos is a good capital for the future, Go said he and President Duterte “oppose the unregulated use of these products and how it is easily accessed by minors.”
“There should be strict regulation by our authorities on the production, distribution, and use of all kinds of e-cigarettes,” he said.
He said the DOH issued Administrative Order 2019-0007, “Revised Rules and Regulations on Electronic Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Delivery System,” to regulate e-cigarettes, but its implementation was stopped by a Pasig court that issued a temporary restraining order (TRO).
The DOH administrative order was issued as Congress has yet to pass a consolidated bill regulating e-cigarettes, Go explained.
“Smoking, in all forms and manner, is a public health issue and it adversely affects almost everyone around a smoker, even those who do not smoke at all. It poses serious health risks. And anyone admitted for smoking-related illnesses, particularly those with limited financial capacity, also puts pressure on government resources to be spent for their health and wellness,” Go said.
“As the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, it is my duty to ensure that necessary health services, as well as information and regulations on health concerns, are easily accessible to protect our people,” he stressed.
“This is one of our priorities in the Senate and I will not hesitate to sponsor such measure that would require a law to regulate e-cigarettes in the country,” he added.