Age threshold in e-cig trade

September 01, 2019

Society is best served when public policy and private advocacy converge..

The attainment of public health and safety objectives hinges on private sector support and cooperation.

In fact, the willingness and commitment of business and industry to adhere to public policy is critical to the success of any campaign to uphold, promote, and safeguard the health and safety of the citizenry.

Consider the global campaign to reduce, if not stop, smoking altogether.

Smoking-cessation and transitioning aides to help smokers shake off their tobacco addiction onto a healthier lifestyle are now readily available in the market.

But fears have been raised by health authorities, medical experts, and public safety advocates that these devices may ironically trigger or instigate the smoking habit, especially among the youth.

Quite fortunately, manufacturers and traders are heeding the call of government to restrict the sale of the gadgets to a generally accepted age threshold.

Thus, all JUUL Labs kiosks and authorized stores strictly prohibit the sale of its  devices and pods to individuals below 18 years old.

This is according Nilo Mapa, president of Better For You Corp.  JUUL Labs’ exclusive distributor in the country amid concern from the Department of Health on possible youth access to e-cigarette products.

“Since JUUL Labs was officially launched in the country last June, we have implemented a stringent age verification process, as part of our commitment to prevent youth from gaining access to our products, which have been specifically designed for current adult smokers,” Mapa said.

All customers are required to present a government-issued ID that bears a prospective buyer’s photo and date of birth, such as the Unified Multipurpose ID, passport, and drivers’ license.

Individuals that are below the government-mandated age limit and/or unable to provide an ID would not be allowed to purchase.

Moreover, each screened customer would only be allowed to purchase a specific number of devices and pods per day, to dissuade illicit trade and distribution, especially to youth.

“We respect and intend to abide by and uphold all relevant local legislation on the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems. The implementation of these age-verification measures in all our kiosks and retail outlets is only one of our many approaches to keep JUUL products inaccessible to youth, with the ultimate objective of deterring underage smoking,” Mapa explained.

JUUL Labs, the leading vapor brand in the United States, has declared its strong commitment to improve the lives of the world’s one billion adult smokers by offering a viable alternative to combustible cigarettes.

In the Philippines, it has also signified its support for the country’s stance against underage smoking.

“We do not want anyone who doesn’t smoke or doesn’t already use nicotine, to use JUUL products. We certainly do not want youth using the product. It is bad for public health, and it is bad for our mission,” said Ken Bishop, JUUL Labs president for Asia Pacific South.

“Globally, we have implemented a strict action plan to combat underage use. We minimize appeal through a strict marketing and advertising code of conduct and prominent nicotine labeling. Further, we limit access to our products through stringent retailer regulations and checks.”

JUUL Labs has also refrained from maintaining a presence on social media platforms to further limit the appeal of its products to minors.

“While we continue to maintain a Twitter account, this is strictly for non-promotional communications. We are also continuously working to remove inappropriate third-party social media content in partnership with major social media companies,” Bishop said.

The Philippines is home to over 16 million adult smokers, which makes up 23 percent of the adult population.

Roughly 10 Filipinos die every hour due to illnesses stemming from the use of combustible cigarettes, such as lung cancer, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease[1].

Every year, the smoking epidemic translates to roughly P 270 billion in healthcare costs and productivity losses, equivalent to 1.9 percent of the country’s GDP.

The Philippines continues to have one of the highest rates of smoking in Asia[], prompting the Department of Health to refer to continued tobacco dependence as a key development issue that impacts the well-being, productivity, and overall quality of life[3].

And while tobacco use among Filipino adults has dropped roughly six percent from 2009 to 2015, the Global Youth Tobacco Survey revealed that underage smoking has increased among children aged 13 to 15 years old

***

The nation celebrates when medium, small, and micro-enterprises are established, nourished, and begin to flourish.

They strike up the band, start the parade, and let the party begin with every MSME launch.

But no one is around to mourn the demise or closure of an MSME after going through a difficult period and failing to recover.

Worse, some just stop on the say-so of bosses or owners.

The thrill is gone? The interest lost? The passion dissipated?

The conventional wisdom is that small businesses are weak, slow, and easily fold against the onslaught of bigger competitors and other adverse economic conditions.

But conventional wisdom is not common sense.

A few ventures, by sheer entrepreneurial audacity, have been able to beat the odds and not only survive but thrive under hostile, punishing, unrelenting competition.

Of course, an MSME, perennially short on capital, derives its main strength from its workers who churn out goods or deliver services.

In fact, a small motley crew of professionals or even just highly skilled, highly motivated individuals can keep a small enterprise going.

Under their care, such venture can navigate even treacherous terrain and dire straits. The business can fly on auto-pilot.

One such venture was a dimsum-noodle-rice topping fast-food restaurant in Dasmarinas City, Cavite, which serves the best delectable, no-frills, home-style chop suey on steaming hot rice straight from the wok to your plate in a jiffy.

Customer traffic was an endless stream, justifying a 24-hour operation that kept the dimsum-noodle house  cash register constantly ringing.

The magnet that kept pulling customers in was obviously the food – how its was prepared, processed, and presented,

Count in the courteous, efficient, and honest staff and crew who kept the place tidy, pleasant, presentable, and hygienic.  
The chop suey rice has been Ped Xing’s regular fare for three years since being advised by doctors to stick to “rabbit food” diet.

What could possibly go wrong in such a place where everything was in its proper place?

Going to the place for my rabbit fare after my regular visit to a “kidney spa” had been my happy routine – until the bad news came abruptly Thursday night.

The staff and crew made the shocking announcement that they would stop whipping out my favorite chop suey.

Friday was the last day of operation – no advance notice, no winding up period, not even consolatory message to the staff and crew who were left to fend for themselves.

They said there was no explanation from the owners why the restaurant was folding up.

Is this how they do it to workers now – cooking their goose and giving it to them cold-turkey style?

Say it’s finished, good bye, see ‘ya?  Just like that?

About a dozen employees losing their jobs in a snap is not just 12 people getting economically dislocated. Their families would also take the hit.

They may be getting skimpy wages, but at least they are regularly paid. The mere continuity of compensation has somehow kept them going.

Now, even that comforting constant is gone.

Is it any consolation that the cut most unkind was made ahead of the “ber” months into the countdown to Christmas?

Not to worry. Santa is not coming to town.

Not this year, not for the staff and crew of the dimsum-noodle house.

They braved the drizzle that sorrowful night, but it was not rainwater that flowed down their sad, sullen faces.

It was the “bitter sting of tears”.

Behold God’s glory and seek His mercy.

Pause and pray, people.