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FDA: The vape bill is not a health measure.

The merged House Measure No. 9007 and Senate Bill No. 2239, also known as the Vape Bill, has been requested as a presidential veto by the Department of Health (DOH), although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reiterated that it is not a health bill.

The FDA’s in-charge Director General Oscar Gutierrez Jr., stated in a statement on Thursday that its passage would undo the “significant progress” made under the previous Duterte administration, which included the enactment of historic laws and executive orders like the smoke-free and vape-free policies and the reforms to the sin tax.

In order to eventually preserve public health and safety, he said, “The FDA asks for the continuation of these activities and the ensuing strengthening of the Tobacco Control and Prevention Strategy of the Philippine Government.”

By developing efficient regulatory mechanisms, the DOH, through the FDA, “bears the constitutional obligation to preserve every Filipino’s right to health.”

The FDA’s regulatory authority over all health products, including tobacco and other related products, was reiterated by the Supreme Court in a lawsuit against the Philippine Tobacco Institute Inc.

According to Gutierrez, the FDA “possesses the expertise, skills, and people to set guidelines to regulate and monitor innovative tobacco products.” The FDA also “has the rightful jurisdiction.”

Additionally, the FDA disagreed with the Vape Bill’s intention to transfer its regulatory authority over such items to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The FDA wants to respect the distinction made between the DOH’s and the DTI’s authority over consumer products in Republic Act 7394, also known as the Consumer Act of the Philippines, which places health products, including hazardous substances, under the DOH’s purview, Gutierrez said. “In expressing this, the FDA does not intend to undermine the DTI,” Gutierrez added.

Additionally, Gutierrez refuted the notion that vapes are now illegal.

According to the statement, “The FDA has actually put procedures in place to legitimate makers, traders, distributors, and retailers of such items.”

As of now, the FDA processes licenses to run these businesses, and a public listing is available on the FDA verification portal.

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