HEALTH policy advocates are pushing for the regulation on flavored vapes or e-cigarettes if not its total ban to spare the minors from its adverse health effects.
Health Justice Philippines managing director Jacky Sarita said while the ultimate goal of the group is for the government to ban Electronic Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Delivery System (Ends) or vapes/e-cigarettes, they must at least regulate the flavors that are used to entice young people to vape.
In the forum for parents about vapes, Sarita cited data from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) that one out of five vapers in the country belong to 10 to 19 years old.
“That is 20 percent of current vapers are young persons. That is why it is very dangerous,” he said.
Sarita said the reasons why young people engaged in using vapes is curiosity, the parents’ lack of knowledge on the product and its effect, and the flavors.
He said most of the flavors for vapes are fruity or sweet and are also marketed as fun, which implies it is targeted to young people.
According to the survey of the Philippine Pediatrics Society on Grades 7 to 9 Filipino students, 39 percent were influenced by their friends or family members to use vape, 31 percent said they were enticed by mint, candy, fruit, or chocolate flavors, and 17.1 percent believe vapes are less harmful than tobacco use.
Sarita said regulating or removing the flavors, along with recently passed price hike on tobacco and vapes, could discourage minors to use it.
Signed into law on July 25, 2019, the Republic Act 11346 or the Tobacco Tax Law of 2019, which added tax on tobacco and e-cigarettes as well as regulating its selling to minors, prohibiting its use in public places, and putting of graphic warnings on its labels.
The excise taxes on vapes solutions are P10 for zero to 10 ml, P20 for 10.01 ml to 20 ml, P30 for 20.01 ml to 30 ml, P40 for 30.01 ml to 40 ml, and P50 for 40.01 to 50 ml.
For 50.00 ml and above, P10 will be added for every 10 ml of additional liquid.
In Davao City, the New Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance was passed on September 2019 raising the penalties for violators.
Electronic Device System and shisha are included as products prohibited to be smoked in public places such as terminals, accommodation and entertainment establishments, workplaces and public buildings, among others.
Rashed Disomimba, a 17-year-old occasional vape user who attended the forum, said he buys vape juices for P250 for what he described as low nicotine. Juices with higher amounts of nicotine is about P450 to P650.
“Yung juice minsan di ko na ma-afford pero minsan kaya ko naman. Di ko kasi palaging ginagamit so tumatagal ng one month (I can afford the juice sometimes. I don’t use it regularly so it lasts for a month),” he said, adding that he only use vapes during vaping events with his groups in Barangay Bucana.
Disomimba said he started vaping when he was about 16 years old. He got interested in making smoke tricks.
He said he has experienced coughing and he was not yet addicted so he can stop if he wants to. But he is afraid he will lose friends in the vaping community.
He added that he has been reprimanded countless times by his parents but he only lies to them.
Sarita said senator Pia Cayetano has prepared a committee report for a bill but she is still studying the matter further along with health experts to make the right approach.
“Ito [tax on vapes] din ay dapat complemented by other regulations. Yun yung pag aaralan ni senator Pia (The taxes on vapes must also be complemented by other regulations. That is what senator Pia is going to study),” he said.
The Parents Forum: Growing Public Concern on E-cigarettes held yesterday, November 9, was organized by the JCI Lakambini Davao to educate parents on e-cigarettes and its effects, solicit their opinions, and encourage them to form a coalition against e-cigarettes on minors.