Senator Pia Cayetano said she will still push for the passage of a measure seeking to impose higher taxes on electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and vaping products.
Cayetano made the statement following President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to ban the use and importation of vaping devices.
“The way I look at it is my work continues. Because our President has really just expressed – from my understanding – his disappointment and exasperation with the e-cig industry. And that’s why he made that statement na i-ban na yan (to ban it),” the veteran legislator.
“Because actually, all this time, he was waiting for all of us to do our job. And my job is to use taxation as a tool to protect the citizens, and of course, there’s also a fundraising measure as far as DOF (Department of Finance) is concerned,” the seasoned lawmaker added.
The lady senator noted that the e-cigarette industry was previously given the opportunity to work and thresh out issues with the government.
However, when the Department of Health (DOH) issued Administrative Order 2019-0007 last August precisely to lay down regulations for e-cigarettes products, she said members of the industry chose to question the AO in court instead of welcoming government regulation.
“In fairness, there are also some industry players that said that they are happy to be regulated. Meanwhile, some of these people went ahead and filed cases to prevent FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and DOH to regulate them. And these courts issued a TRO,” Cayetano remarked.
“You don’t want to be regulated? Get out of the country then.”
“Eh ‘di nabwisit si Presidente, so ang basa ko sa kanya, ‘Ah ganun ha? Ayaw niyo magpa-regulate, i-ban ko na lang kayo.’ And that’s how I feel also. Ayaw niyo magpa-regulate? Eh ‘di lumabas na kayo sa bansang ito (The President got annoyed, and the way I see it, he meant ‘Is that it? If you don’t want to be regulated, then I’ll just ban you.’ And that’s how I feel also. You don’t want to be regulated? Get out of the country then),” she added.
Cayetano pointed out that taxation is “just one tool” that would help curb these new kinds of vices, adding that other pro-health initiatives should be put in place to complement the sin tax bill.
“This taxation measure has to be of a more or less permanent nature.”
“I just have to push through with my part of the job. My job is to pass the taxation measure whether or not there’s an EO that comes out if something comes out tomorrow, whether it’s a total ban or regulating, I have to be ready. Because this taxation measure has to be of a more or less permanent nature,” she said.
Duterte’s order came following the first reported case of an illness related to vaping involving a 16-year-old girl from Central Visayas who allegedly complained of “sudden-onset severe shortness of breath” after using e-cigarettes for six months.
Duterte, in his latest speech, told the courts not to meddle in his decision to forbid the use of vaping devices.
“Judges, I know that you can determine whether vaping is good or not, but unfortunately, your indolence does not inspire confidence. It takes you too long to decide and so do not interfere in this,” he said.