Philippines ‘Vape Bill’ Commended at The Asia Harm Reduction Forum

Following three months from the passage of the Filipino Vape Bill - ‘Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act’, world-renowned experts signed the ‘The Manila Declaration 2022’, which urges the World Health Organization (WHO)’s signatories and delegates of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to follow the science with regards to tobacco harm reduction.

The Philippines Vape Bill is a reconciled version of Senate Bill 2239 or the ‘Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act’ which aims to regulate the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use and consumption of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs) and House Bill 9007 or the ‘Non-Combustible Nicotine Delivery Systems Regulation Act.’

Just three months after this bill was passed, ‘world-renowned experts signed ‘The Manila Declaration 2022’. Released after the Fifth Asia Harm Reduction Forum (AHRF 2022) on 28th October, the Declaration aims to provide information and evidence which has been excluded from any guidance provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) to signatories and delegates of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) on safer nicotine products. Moreover it highlights that vapers continue to be marginalised, ignored, and attacked for their choices, despite the science backing the use of vapes for smoking cessation.

“An individual’s right to health is recognised as a fundamental human right; Smoking causes the vast majority of tobacco-related death and disease; Vaping is dramatically safer than cigarettes and has helped millions quit smoking; Harm reduction is at the core of international treaty obligations; Bans serve only to protect the cigarette industry; and that public health and governments’ credibility is at stake,” states the declaration.

The document highlights the ridiculousness of allowing cigarettes on the market whilst banning their safer alternatives. It highlights that it is criminal to allow a product that is known to kill people with certainty to be sold liberally on the free market, and ban or restrict safer alternatives for adults who smoke.

AHRF2022: ‘Integrating Harm Reduction in Asian Policies: A Major Win for Public Health’
Meanwhile, AHRF has hosted its fifth annual congregation on 28 October 2022. Organized in the Philippines, the theme of AHRF2022 is ‘Integrating Harm Reduction in Asian Policies: A Major Win for Public Health’ and it is expected to build on the success and momentum of the previous forums. As a non-profit and interdisciplinary organization, AHRF aims to inform and educate about harm reduction, recent scientific studies and developments in public health. the topic of tobacco harm reduction.

CAPHRA (Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates) Executive Coordinator Nancy Loucas, underlined that the FCTC continues to fail smokers wanting to quit. “The disinformation offered by WHO FCTC and its affiliates to signatory countries as ‘guidance’ is dangerous. The FCTC has failed, and continues to fail, the eight million adults who die from unsafe tobacco products annually.”

While the Philippine representative to CAPHRA, Clarisse Virgino, applauded Philippine lawmakers for finally including harm reduction in legislation. “The vape law introduces new possibilities for harm reduction alternatives in the country. It is just the first step towards a healthier and safer environment for all. We hope that our legislators continue to pursue different aspects of harm reduction in its constitutional mandate to protect the welfare of its citizens,” said Virgino.