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House TWG decision to lower minimum age for purchase, use of vape slammed

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By Chito Chavez

The Child Rights Network (CRN) has strongly opposed the decision of the Technical Working Group (TWG) on electronic cigarettes (ecigs) of the House of Representatives that lowered the minimum age for the purchase and use of vapes from 21 to 18.

(Jansen Romero / MANILA BULLETIN)

(Jansen Romero / MANILA BULLETIN)

Puzzled by the move, CRN said the TWG, which was organized by the Committee on Trade and Industry and the Committee on Health for the consolidation of bills seeking to regulate electronic cigarettes, has adopted a regressive proposal.

In an 8-1 vote, the TWG voted on February 13 to revert the minimum age for the purchase and use of electronic cigarettes from 21 to 18, with Bataan Rep. Joet Garcia as the only solon opposing the move.

CRN and health advocates saw this as a retrogressive move that endangers the health and future of Filipino children.

It added that the recently-enacted law imposing additional taxes on alcohol and electronic cigarettes, Republic Act 11467 (RA 11467), has set the minimum age for purchase and use of these devices at 21.

CRN said that in the Philippines, where one in five users of e-cigarettes is an  adolescents (10-19), the provision that restricts the sale and use of the device to at least 21 is crucial and can save children from being addicted to nicotine.

CRN, the largest alliance of organizations and agencies pushing for children’s rights legislation in the Philippines, remained 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,” it added.

The members of the TWG present during the voting were Reps. Sharon Garin, Rufus Rodriguez, Ace Barbers, Alfredo Garbin, Kristine Singson-Meehan, Ciriaco Gato, Cheryl P. Deloso-Montalla, Ria Vergara and Jericho Nograles.

TWG was co-chaired by Rep. Weslie Gatchalian, chairman of the Committee on Trade and Industry and Garcia, vice chairman of the Committee on Health.

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