Vaping regulations change each year and differ around the globe. Some countries offer much tighter restrictions than others, and some regulations change to the detriment of vapers. However, the recent moves from the Philippines government have been welcomed by vaping activists.
Earlier in the year, legislation was proposed to make changes to the vaping laws in the country, and as of July 25, the bill became law.
What is the updated law for vaping now?
The most important takeaway from the updated law is that it legitimizes the use of vapes as a means for quitting smoking. This helps put the Philippines in line with most of Europe, setting them apart as one of the very few Asian countries to have reasonable vaping regulations.
The new laws allow for nicotine strengths of up to 65mg/ml (6.5%) and lowers the legal age of purchase from 21 to 18. These of course offer great benefits for customers who feel the need for higher strengths and help introduce aid for smokers aged 18-21.
In the Philippines, the legal age for buying cigarettes had always been 18 meaning that until this legislation changed, young smokers had at least 3 years of smoking before being able to legally purchase vapes. The hope is therefore that these changes will help 16 million smokers in the country, including the youngest adult smokers.
These changes also include restrictions on where vaping products can be sold and penalties for stores and online retailers for selling to minors. In a move similar to the UK and Europe, they have also restricted advertising with social media influencers and celebrities.
Another slight change to the laws revolves around flavours. Although the law does not ban flavours outright (a ban on flavours other than menthol and tobacco already exists), it prohibits labels and advertising that use flavour descriptors that may appeal to minors. This includes wording such as those relating to fruit, candy, desserts or cartoon characters.
One of the biggest changes is the change in the authority of who manages vaping. Rather than the FDA, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will have control over the regulations on vaping and heated tobacco products.
The politics behind the changes
At the time of the bill first being introduced, there were some parties who disagreed with the proposed changes including the Philippines Department of Health. However, the FDA had previously angered many after it was revealed that American billionaire Michael Bloomberg attempted to influence Philippines policies with money sent to anti-vaping groups.
The bill was also under review at the same time as the presidency began to change hands, suggesting that possibly it flew under the radar.
Here's hoping that the Philippines continue to trial the new regulations and allow time for them to work, without bending under opposition that aims to oppress vaping as a quit-smoking tool.
The impact of the law changes on manufacturers and brands
As part of the improved regulations, the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging and distribution have also been overhauled. These have been brought in line with internationally accepted standards. But there are still some regulations that brands need to be aware of if they wish to take their products to the Philippines.
For one, the flavour ban restricts vape products to menthol and tobacco flavours only. These also cannot be labelled with fruity/candy/dessert names. Therefore, brands should be careful of product labels, flavour names and flavour descriptions.
Although some tobacco flavours may have naturally fruity tones, they should not be used as a descriptor. With the change of the legal vaping age from 21 to 18, age restriction labels on products will also require updating.
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