While Republic Acts (RA) 11346 and 11467—RAs said to safeguard the health and wellness of Filipinos by regulating products such as alcohol and tobacco through an annual increase of excise tax—have been approved for quite some time now, the sudden release of its Implementing Rules and Regulations last January 14, pending approval, left many industry players surprised and eager to voice out their concerns and comments.

E-cigarettes should be considered a tool to aid in the government’s goal to reduce cigarette smokers in the country.

Detrimental to the industry“The proposed minimum price according to the IRR will be more than double of what it is now,” said Joey Dulay, President of the Philippine E-cigarette Industry Association. Should the current IRR come into fruition, the floor price of e-cigarettes will make e-cigarettes too expensive for smokers who are trying to quit the habit, while decimating the industry when users turn to illicit markets to source for their vaping supply.“This will lead to a huge blow for legal distributors and resellers, as sales will likely plummet,” he expressed. At present, there are numerous small businesses in the country that distribute e-cigarettes. The potential downturn of these businesses could also affect sizable contributions to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.A potential retrogradeAccording to Dulay, e-cigarettes should be considered a tool to aid in the government’s goal to reduce cigarette smokers in the country. This principle in fact guides health policies in places such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand which all have e-cigarette specific regulations that actively encourage smokers to consider switching to the less harmful alternative.“E-cigarettes should be viewed as a solution to help in the government’s goal especially since they are best estimated to be 95% less harmful to one’s health compared to combustible cigarettes, and are proven to be the most effective in helping smokers quit.”

For years, e-cigarette manufacturers have constantly innovated and upgraded their products to effectively achieve this goal. Additionally, e-cigarette manufacturers have also prioritized the development of technology to prevent those who are underaged from accessing vaping devices.“Making one of the best solutions to quit smoking and even reduce underage smoking inaccessible will just lead to a reversal of the progress this industry has already made,” he lamented.Moreover, Dulay fears that with the proposed rates of e-cigarettes and cartridges, consumers will switch back to combustible tobacco products or, worse, turn to unregulated products sold by illicit traders in black markets. The latter poses a serious risk to consumer health and safety.Serving the people together“We fully support the government’s efforts to protect the Filipino people from harmful substances,” Dulay clarified. “We are aligned with the government’s goal and envision a healthier and more progressive Philippines.”It would be ideal if the authorities can strike a balance through positive and reasonable regulations.

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