E-cigs should be regulated by DOH and FDA

HealthJustice Philippines, a think tank and advocacy group with legal expertise in tobacco control and health promotion, proposed that electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), better known as e-cigarettes, should be regulated by the Department of Health (DoH) and the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) instead of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Atty. Bernadette Esguerra-Huggins of HealthJustice was among the resource speakers invited to the hearing on five different bills proposing the regulation of the manufacture, packaging, use, sale, distribution, importation, and advertisement of ENDS separately filed by representatives Rodel Batocabe, Alfredo Garbin, Christopher Co, Eric Olivarez, and Victoria Noel in the House of Representatives. The hearing took place on March 13.

Atty. Jacky Sarita, Managing Director of HealthJustice, was also invited to the Senate hearing on the bill on e-cigarettes filed by Senator Sotto. The hearing happened last March 19.

“Business is booming for manufacturers and sellers of e-cigarettes, who have been casually throwing around word that their products are safe alternatives to tobacco. This is a baseless claim, which, unfortunately, many people are buying. E-cigarettes contain nicotine and more chemicals than the manufacturers and sellers are willing to disclose. There are over 8000 varieties of tobacco juices and flavors, and it is imperative that people be warned about and protected from the potential health risks posed by these products,” Esguerra-Huggins said.

“The Department of Health through the Food and Drugs Administration should have full regulatory powers. Pursuant to Article 109 of the Consumer Act of the Philippines or R.A. 7394, advertisement and sales promotion with respect to food, drugs, cosmetics, devices and hazardous substances, shall also be within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Department of Health. Further, declared as State policy in the Consumer Code the duty to protect the interests of the consumer, promote his general welfare and to establish standards of conduct for business and industry,” Sarita stated.

Both Esguerra-Huggins and Sarita emphasized that “the right to health is paramount over the right to trade, and hence the implementation of the proposed regulation should be given to the proper and competent government authorities: the Department of Health and Food and Drug Authority. All told, the protection of public health should be the primary consideration in the enactment of the proposed regulation.”

HealthJustice is a Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control. It is a Programme Partner of the NCD Alliance, an international network of experts and advocates working to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases worldwide.