9 July 2020
HealthJustice Philippines, a non-stock and non-profit organization with research and legal expertise in tobacco control and health promotion, supported the plan of the Department of Finance (DoF) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to prohibit the sale of tobacco and vape products on the internet.
“We strongly support DoF and DTI’s plan to ban the online sale of tobacco and vape products. Their removal from online platforms will protect our youth and the public from the dangers of these harmful and undesirable products especially during this time of pandemic,” said Atty. Benedict Nisperos, legal and policy consultant of HealthJustice.
“Currently, it is doubtful if these products sold in various online platforms are registered with the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). It is very alarming that people are buying and using these harmful products which may be adulterated,” Nisperos said.
President Rodrigo Duterte through Executive Order No. 106 issued on February 26, 2020 ordered the ban on the manufacture, distribution, marketing or sale of adulterated and unregistered e-cigarettes. EO 106 also banned the importation of unregistered and adulterated e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products in the country.
“The owners of these online platforms should be reminded that Congress banned the importation, sale and distribution of vapor products with flavorings other than tobacco and plain menthol through RA 11467. This prohibition was effective last January 1, 2020,” Nisperos claimed.
Congress’ move of prohibiting flavored e-cigarettes is based on evidence-based studies showing the toxicity of flavorings to humans. The U.S. Surgeon General in his reports on e-cigarette use and tobacco use prevention had also concluded that flavorings are a key driver of youth tobacco initiation in all types of tobacco products.
“The legislative ban on flavors is very timely with the advent of COVID-19. By eliminating the drivers of e-cigarette addiction, it is expected that the usage of vape products will go down. The planned online sales ban of the DOF and DTI is an enforcement measure of the act of Congress. With this measure, the high risk factor for COVID-19 pandemic caused by e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products is addressed, “ Nisperos claimed.
A survey among these online platforms will show that most of them sell flavors ranging from Classic menthol Virginia Tobacco, Cool Mint, Cream Brulee, Fruit medley to Pineapple Crush. There are around more than 14,000 flavors for e-cigarettes.
Studies have shown that smokers and vapers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID19 due to how these products are consumed and how these products affect the immune system of users and non-users.
The World Health Organization and various health experts warned that smoking is a risk factor for severity of any lower respiratory tract infection, and that the same would be expected in COVID-19, a respiratory disease.