Sen. Pia Cayetano on Tuesday urged parents to discourage children from picking up e-cigarette use, following the passage of a new “sin” tax law imposing higher taxes and tougher regulations on these devices.

Cayetano said she had pushed for higher taxes on heated tobacco products (HTPs), Electronic Nicotine/Non-Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS/ENNDS) and vapes, citing experts who argue that these products cause more harm and cannot be considered “effective cessation devices.”

“I based my position on [scientific evidence and] the recommendations of health advocates, no less than the World Health Organization (WHO), that we treat these e-cigarettes and HTPs equally as if they are cigarettes,” she said during a press conference with sin tax advocates.

“It is my job to veer on the side of safety. That ‘s why the position I’ve always taken is, unless there is convincing evidence that these are truly cessation products, and that these companies are willing to register them as such, then we should treat them as harmful products,” Cayetano added.

The senator thanked fellow lawmakers for supporting the provision under the law that mandates the Food and Drug Administration to regulate e-cigarette products.

The new law, Republic Act 11467, bans the sale of these products to non-smokers and persons below 21 years old.

Cayetano said the campaign should not stop with imposing higher taxes, as it should be complemented by a comprehensive public health strategy.

“The journey is not over because the effectivity of the law is in its implementation,” she said.

“I am also calling on the education and health departments, community officials, and parents, [to guard the youth against e-cigarette products]… It is supposed to be for those who want to shift from cigarettes to another product. It is not there to encourage the youth to take on a brand new vice,” the senator added. (