The Senate on Thursday approved on third and final reading the measure that seeks to regulate the sale and use of vapes and heated tobacco products as an alternative to cigarettes.
With 19 affirmative and two negative votes and two abstentions, the chamber passed Senate Bill 2239, or the proposed Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Act, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.
Recto said that while vapes are not risk-free, they are "less harmful" than tobacco products because it lessens the emission of harmful chemical compounds.
"The real intention of this is for those smoking cigarettes to shift to this product," he added.
Senate Bill 2239 aims to regulate the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use, advertisement, and promotion of vaporized nicotine and heated tobacco products to reduce the harm caused by smoking.
Under the bill, only individuals aged 18 and above are allowed to access and use these products. Retailers are required to verify the age of the buyer by asking them to present a government-issued ID.
The measure also prohibits the use of these products in schools, hospitals, government offices, and facilities intended only for minors. Retailers should be at least 100 meters away from a school, playground, or any other facility frequently visited by minors.
The Department of Trade and Industry is tasked to ensure the regulation of vaporized nicotine products. Risk-appropriate health warnings should be displayed on the product packaging.
Senators Pia Cayetano and Francis Pangilinan voted against the approval of the measure. The House of Representatives approved its version of the bill last May.