THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has expressed support to the proposed “Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulations Act,” also known as Vape bill, saying regulating these products is still better than totally banning it in the market.

The DTI said, however, that the newly appointed secretary of the agency, Alfredo Pascual, is reviewing the department’s position on the matter since it was issued by former secretary Ramon Lopez under the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte in February.

Aside from saying that regulating the sale and distribution of the products is still better than a total ban, the DTI also said the measure will prevent the proliferation of illicit trade on such products.

It said the bill will support industry and economic growth, noting that over two million Filipino farmers and laborers are dependent on the tobacco industry.

“The DTI believes that vape products can be utilized as an alternative or a helpful means to transition from consuming conventional tobacco products to less harmful tobacco products,” the DTI said in its position paper.

“The DTI is steadfast in its support for effective science and evidence-based tobacco and related product control regulation, and believes that the most impactful way to curb consumption of tobacco products is through effective and reasonable regulation,” it added.

The agency said more funds through taxes will also be generated from the measure, which will be used to support the Universal Health Care program of the government.

The consolidated Senate and House of Representative vape bills are about to lapse into a law on July 24.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. may also veto the measure.

The bill seeks to regulate the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use and communication of vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products, as well as novel tobacco products.

It will give the DTI the power to order a recall or confiscation of non-compliant smoke-free products sold online and in physical stores.

The agency’s role under the bill is in line with its mandate to ensure the protection of consumers, as well as the balance between the interests of all stakeholders.

The DTI also reiterated the role of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the implementation of the measure, citing that among its provision is that no vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine product or novel tobacco product shall have a medicinal or therapeutic claim on its marketing materials or packaging, or shall have an explicit risk statement unless such claims are approved by the FDA.

Earlier, the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), expressed support for the Vape Bill, saying it will protect the consumers from fake and substandard alternative cigarettes.

FPI chairman Jesus Arranza said the measure will also make it difficult for unscrupulous, unregistered and non-taxpaying traders to peddle their smuggled goods.

Former president of the Philippine Urological Association Dr. Telesforo Gana said the measure may also pave the way to those wanting to quit from using the traditional cigarettes.

Other groups and personalities, however, maintained their stand against the Vape Bill.

The DOH was among those urging the government to veto the measure, saying that it will place Filipino youth in particular “at undue risk of harmful and addictive substances associated with vape use, like alcohol, marijuana, and potentially other illicit drugs. (SunStar Philippines)