THE HEALTH department and medical organizations have reasserted their opposition to the proposed law that will regulate the sale and use of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.

In a statement on Monday, the Department of Health (DoH) said the Senate’s approval last week of the Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Regulation Act is a “blatant disregard to public health.”

The counterpart bill in the House of Representatives was approved in May.

“The bill is retrogressive and contains several provisions that contradict public health goals and international standards. It also undermines the country’s progress in tobacco and control,” DoH said.

“By lowering the age of access to vapor products from 21 to 18 years old, allowing flavorings, and permitting advertising and sponsorship strategies, the bill, when passed into law, will expose our youth to harmful and addictive substances by making vapor products enticing and easily accessible,” it added.

Last week, several medical and health-related groups signed a letter sent to President Rodrigo R. Duterte, appealing for a veto of the proposed law.

“This bill is a deregulatory measure,” reads part of the letter dated Dec. 17 signed by at least 43 medical societies.

They said the bill, if passed into law, will undermine health regulation by giving authority to the Trade department rather than the Food and Drug Administration.

The concept of “harm reduction” used as a justification by lawmakers to pass the proposed measure, they said, is misleading because it only applies to smokers. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan