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House bill seeking to hike excise tax on e-cigarettes gains support

HEALTH advocacy groups have expressed their strong support to House Bill (HB) 5532, raising excise taxes on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs).

Filed by Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, HB 5532 will increase taxes on nicotine salt to P60 per millimeter of nicotine in vaporized nicotine products from P52 and raise to P40 per pack on heated tobacco products from P32.50.

Salceda, the Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, already initiated the discussion of the bill in the Ways and Means Committee hearing on last November 21,2 022. The committee that Salceda heads also created a technical working group for the bill.

HealthJustice, a non-government organization, threw support to the measure because of its pro-health agenda as vape products are taxed less than the cigarettes at the moment.

“The additional tax will reduce access to these products. We have seen a sharp increase in the use of e-cigarettes, vapor and heated tobacco products locally in the Philippines and the world,” Benedict G. Nisperos, legal consultant of HealthJustice said. “The WHO [World Health Organization] has recommended taxation as a means to prevent access to these products.”

The group Parents Against Vape (PAV) also expressed support to HB 5532 as it will set the age limit of access at 21 years old as Vape Law gives access to 18 years. The PAV is an alliance of parents, teachers, public health experts and community groups based in Davao City and Samal Island.

“E-cigarette products allows flavors that entice children and the youth, makes them available online, allows the use of cigarettes in public places,” said Imelda Esposado-Gocotano, PAV Convenor.

Meanwhile, HealthJustice cited that the FDA and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released federal data from the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey on youth tobacco use in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report, “Tobacco Product Use among Middle and High School Students-United States, 2022,” showed that e-cigarretes tops the most commonly used types of devices with 9.4 percent; cigars (1.9 percent); cigarettes (1.6 percent) smokeless (1.3 percent); hookahs (1.1percent); nicotine pouches (1.1percent); heated tobacco products (1.0 percent); and, pipe tobacco (0.6 percent).

“It is apparent that among the youth, e-cigarettes is now the top nicotine product choice. Of those surveyed by the US FDA, 85 percent said they use flavored e-cigarettes and the most commonly used device type is disposables,” Nisperos added.

The US CDC has warned that most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which has known health effects and that nicotine is highly addictive.

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