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DepEd, CHED urged to address ‘vape epidemic’ among youth

Advocacy groups on Monday appealed to the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to strengthen efforts to resolve the “vape epidemic” among the youth.

In a joint statement, Child Rights Network (CRN) and the Parents Against Vape (PAV) urged the agencies “to take a more active role” in implementing the Republic Act 11900 or Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Regulation Act.

“Although the Trade and Industry Department issued an administrative order to implement the law, we firmly believe that the education agencies are in a more strategic position to address the vape epidemic among our youth,” CRN convenor Romeo Dongeto said.

“We must take immediate action to protect our children’s right to health and an environment free from tobacco and nicotine. We call on the DepEd and CHED to prioritize the implementation of the vape regulation law and strengthen efforts to combat the vape epidemic among our youth,” he added.

Among the suggestions of the advocacy groups is for DepEd and CHED to release guidelines to ensure that the sale of vapes and e-cigarettes is not conducted within a 200-meter radius of schools.

The groups also said that DepEd’s Child Protection Unit and Child Rights in Education Desk should be used to strengthen advocacy efforts against vapes and e-cigarettes.

CRN and PAV also called on the DTI to strictly implement RA 11900 to protect children from the marketing tactics of the tobacco and vape industry.

“DTI must not – even for a day – waver on its commitment to monitoring the sale of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products that violate the restrictions on flavor descriptors and marketing strategies that directly cater to the youth and children. We laud DTI’s initial efforts, but this should continue in the years to come,” said PAV president Imelda Esposado-Gocotano.

In February, the Senate adopted a resolution denouncing the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes and other vape products towards the youth.

The controversial vape bill lapsed into law in 2022, providing regulations on the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use, and communication of vape products and novel tobacco products.—Giselle Ombay/AOL, GMA Integrated News