Child Protection Groups urged the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to enforce policies prohibiting the sale of vapes, heated tobacco products and novel tobacco products within 100 meters from school premises as students begin the academic year.
The Child Rights Network (CRN), Parents Against Vape (PAV), and HealthJustice also asked the DTI to coordinate with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and local government units in enforcing the sales and distribution ban of vapes in schools amid reports of rampant sale and marketing of vape and cigarettes.
Based on research findings by the John Hopkins Institute for Global Tobacco Control in January 2023, retailers of e-cigarettes or vape continue to sell and advertise within 100 meters in 78% of schools in the Philippines, despite the prohibition in RA 11900.
“The DTI needs the assistance of our education agencies and LGUs to take action against the selling of cigarettes and vapes located near school areas because these aim to lure students to start smoking. Our children are the vulnerable targets of these deliberate marketing ploys by tobacco companies. Our youth deserve to live healthy in an environment free from the dangers of nicotine addiction,” said Mr. Rom Dongeto, Convenor of Child Rights Network.
In the Philippines, 12.5% of Filipino adolescents aged 13 to 15 years used various tobacco products, while 14.1% used vapes, based on the 2019 Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS).
E-cigarettes, commonly referred to as vapes, contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance that impairs brain development of infants, children and young adults, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Vapes also contain other toxic substances that are not safe for the user and those exposed to second-hand aerosol emissions. The WHO added, while long-term impacts are yet to be determined, some studies suggest vape use increases risk for heart and lung diseases.
“We, as parents, are counting on the DTI to fulfill their mandate as lead implementing agency. Their heightened operations against vape and cigarette vendors and distributors who violate the law must not waver. We also encourage other parents to educate our children against the health hazards of vaping so they are guided to stay away from this addictive vice,” said Imelda Gocotano, Lead Convenor of Parents Against Vape.
The groups also called on local chief executives to religiously implement their anti-smoking and anti-vaping ordinances; and to hold accountable all violators who sell to minors or promote vaping near schools.
“We do not want our students to believe the fraudulent and misleading claims of cigarette and vape distributors and retailers who take advantage of the opportunity with the opening of classes. LGUs can help by actively monitoring schools and youth facilities within their jurisdiction,” said Atty. Benedict Nisperos, legal consultant of HealthJustice.
Under RA 11900 and EO 106, series of 2020,vaping is absolutely prohibited in campuses, playgrounds and in facilities where minors frequent. Also, under these laws, the sale promotion, advertising, and product demonstration of vapes, heated tobacco products, and Novel Tobacco Products within one hundred (100) meters from any point of the perimeter of a school, playground or other facility frequented particularly by minors are prohibited
A person caught vaping in prohibited locations like centers of youth activity, including schools, can be slapped with a fine of P5,000 for the first offense, and up to P20,000 for the third offense. While distributors or retailers caught violating the sales and distribution ban will pay a fine of up to P10,000 or face imprisonment of up to 30 days.