FILIPINO doctors welcomed the publication of the final version of the vape bill that contains key provisions that strictly regulate e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTP) and aim to protect the youth and save smokers' lives.

"It will be the country’s first comprehensive law that will regulate vapor products and provide strict rules on its use to protect minors. It also provides for detailed regulation so that the 17 million Filipino smokers can access these less harmful alternatives," said Dr. Rafael Castillo, a top cardiologist and the only Filipino sitting as a trustee at the International Society of Hypertension.

Castillo added that the Vaporized Nicotine Products (VNP) bill, when signed into law, will become part of the legacy of the Duterte administration.

President Rodrigo Duterte is himself an anti-smoking advocate and even implemented an ordinance in Davao City when he was mayor, that penalizes smoking in public places.

Dr. Dante Dator, one of the country's leading urologists and former National Kidney and Transplant Institute Chief Executive Officer, supported the vape bill, saying provisions are in place to ensure protection of the youth from using vape products.

Dator added that without the vape bill, flavored and substandard e-cigarettes as well as those high-nicotine vape products will continue to flourish because the current law, RA 11467, does not penalize the selling of such products.

The final version of the vape bill, as approved by the bicameral conference committee of the Senate and House of Representatives, bans the selling of vapor products with a nicotine content above 65 mg/ml.

It also bans the use of flavor descriptors that appeal to minors, in addition to the ban on using flavors that appeal to minors under RA 11467.

The bill also prohibits the display of vape products beside other products that appeal to minors in stores, as well as the use of celebrities and social media influencers in advertising materials.

Dr. Romeo Luna Jr., president of the San Juan Medical Center Staff Association, confirmed that harm from the use of e-cigarettes and HTPs is significantly less than cigarettes, based on several scientific studies.

Luna said the scientific consensus from medical experts and public health regulators around the world is that vapor and heated tobacco products are less harmful than cigarettes.

"This simply means that for the 16 million Filipino smokers who cannot stop smoking, there is now a better and less harmful alternative for them," said Dr. Luna.

According to House Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, the World Health Organization’s scientist-representative confirmed that vape products are less harmful than cigarettes during the deliberations of the vape bill in Congress.