A law that will regulate e-cigarettes should come first before the government considers imposing taxes on it, Senator Francis Tolentino said in a radio interview on Sunday.
The neophyte senator has brought this up as the bill which seeks to increase excise tax on alcohol, heated tobacco, vapor products, is currently on second reading in the plenary.
“There are bills that seek to increase taxes but what I told them and it was discovered during the hearing in the House that we have no regulation that allows vape in the Philippines. How could we tax a product that is not yet legal?” Tolentino told DzBB.
The senator pointed out that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Health (DoH), and the Department of Trade and Industry have yet to regulate e-cigarettes.
The Senate is currently debating on the proposed increase of excise taxes against cigarettes including vapes and alcohol.
Committee Report 6 or the Senate Bill 1064 seeks to impose a tax of P45 on vapor products per milliliter by 1 January 2020. This will increase by P5 every year until 2023.
After 2023, the excise tax on vapor products will increase by five percent.
“If we have no regulation on these that means it is illegal. Why would we impose taxes on a product that will enter the market but is still considered illegal? Second, what is important is there are studies especially in other countries that vape is deadly,” Tolentino claimed.
He also noted that around 39 people, mostly youths, have died due to the negative health effects of e-cigarettes and its ingredients. Furthermore, Singapore and Australia have already declared vapes as poison.
“When we say regulation, we should consider the scope. To whom it should be sold? (should it be sold) online? Should we allow its advertisement? It’s worse if we do not know these… When we rush the imposition of taxes, maybe our collection will go to the medical assistance (for those who use vape). Let us separate (the tax) for vape. That was also considered by the Lowe House,” he said.
Tolentino also pointed out that vapes could be used for illegal substances such as marijuana and shabu.
“What is terrifying is if this (vape juice) was mixed with cannabis oil, marijuana. It alarms us because there might be drug lords who might put shabu in there,” he said.
He warned that if this is not regulated, the government might have bigger problems.