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Philippines Rejects US Funded Anti-Vaping Lobby

by Robert Taney on January 28, 2022

Anti-Vaping Lobbyists Accused of Corruption in Philippines

In the United States, the independent vaping industry has had a tough time competing with Bloomberg financed anti-vaping lobbyists. It is estimated that he has spent over 130 million to date.

The issue is made doubly complex because the goal of Bloomberg’s lobbying, banning vaping and vape juice flavors, happens to dovetail nicely with a tobacco industry that materially benefits when flavored vapes are banned. The situation is beginning to resemble regulatory capture.

 

Regulatory Capture

Regulatory capture is a form of corruption where lobbyists and industry stakeholders further their own agenda by dominating the regulatory agencies assigned to safeguard public interest.

This might seem to be business as usual in the US. Money in politics is impossible to avoid. This allows the wealthiest to control the levers of power. It is an import that the Philippines has decided reject.

As of January 20, 2020, it appears that vaping laws are being liberalized. Investigators found that American lobbyists were writing their vaping policy.

 

Expose on US Anti-Vaping Money Sparks Protest

In a rare turn of events, money didn’t talk. In fact, the use of money for leverage greatly upset the legislature and voters of the Philippines. The upshot is that Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates were handed a rare defeat in their pursuit of vaping prohibition.

As reported in the Manilla Bulletin last August, Bloomberg’s foundations attempted to seize control of the Philippine FDA through millions in grant money.

On January 20, 2022, The Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Act (SB2239) passed the Philippine Senate by a 19-2 vote.  The public was scandalized that a single billionaire hijacked their country’s nicotine policy. It may sound alien to American ears, but the idea of a single privileged billionaire turning his opinions into law was not well received.

SB2239 undoes Bloomberg’s hard work to deny adults access to nicotine vapes. The vaping age is going back down to 18, the Philippine FDA, which had received millions in grants from Bloomberg is losing control over the country’s policies. Vaping will still be regulated, just not at the behest and whims of a single man. They are starting over with a clean slate.

Mad Vapes supports Tobacco-21 and all other US laws. Nonetheless, the level of misinformation and lobbying money that has been dumped into the anti-vaping agenda in the US has been tremendous. We could also use a reset.

 

Bloomberg Corruption Scandal

The anti-vaping scandal hit the papers in August 2021. A consumer rights group established financial links between local Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and American billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Multiple grants totaling millions were received. The expectation was that these groups would lobby tirelessly for his vape prohibition agenda.

“The CAPHRA paper revealed that Bloomberg also gave millions to local NGOs led by the Health Justice Philippines (at least eight grants since 2010); Action for Economic Reforms (at least six grants since 2011); Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (at least 10 grants since 2009); Action On Smoking & Health Philippines (at least two grants since 2017); the Philippine Legislators’ Committee On Population And Development (at least two grants since 2018); Social Watch Philippines (three grants since 2018); and New Vois Association of the Philippines (at least five grants since 2014).”

 

Anti-Vaping Successes in US

This is the same game plan that has denied adult vapers access to the flavors they prefer in many states. Anti-vapers have had little difficulty painting anyone who supports adult access to vaping flavors peddlers of nicotine to children and big tobacco shills. Big tobacco is in favor of vape flavor bans, which remove their biggest competition from the market. They sell only tobacco flavored vapes and of course actual tobacco. 

 A slow-moving CDC failed to prompt clear vaping of blame in a 2019 outbreak of lung disease. This disease, dubbed EVALI was tied entirely to black market THC cartridges.

The headline was far larger than the retraction when it came to a debunked heart attack study.

Anti-vaping politicians in the US House cited the 2018 Youth Tobacco Survey in 2022 to defend a move to classify synthetic nicotine as tobacco product. The last three CDC Youth Tobacco Surveys show a marked decline in underage vaping that undermines their calls for prohibition and banning the flavors that adult vapers prefer. So why not go back to before all the restrictions landed and Tobacco-21 passed for a misleading and now outdated snapshot of teenage vaping.

 

Vaping Politics

Filipino politicians have not been willing to show total deference to a man of great wealth who wants to ban adults from participating in legal activities. Perhaps it is the idea of a single individual dictating national health policy with his checkbook that upset them. Bloomberg’s efforts at banning vaping threatened to funnel up to one million Filipino vapers back onto combustible cigarettes.

Nothing occurring in the Philippines is in any way different than the US, apart from the fact Bloomberg and Gates are least residents of the US.  Philippine House Bill SB 2239 rolls back the laws passed at the behest of these anti-vaping groups.

 

Big Pharma Ties

The authors of the CAPHRA expose pointed out that despite the focus on vaping there was no corresponding effort to ban smoking. But they did find a link between Bloomberg and the pharmaceutical industry. The products they sell are the nicotine replacement therapy gums and patches that got smashed by vaping in a smoking cessation study conducted in the UK. Critics have scrambled to move the goal posts, but vaping was twice as effective.

“The billionaires are tied to the charities, the charities are tied to the pharmaceuticals, and the pharmaceuticals are tied to the billionaires. Most alarmingly, they don’t reveal these ties as money changes hands and their talking points are unwittingly parroted out of the mouths of government officials”

“The corruption and conflicts of interest are blatant. For example, big pharma is using their charitable organizations to attack vaping while marketing their own smoking cessation products,” Virgino said.

 

 

 

Conflicts of Interest

“Dismissing compelling international scientific evidence, they’re applying bullying tactics to unduly influence sovereign nations’ public health policies,” said Clarisse Yvette P. Virgino, the Philippine CAPHRA representative.

Total abstinence is an approach to risky but consensual adult behaviors will get you laughed out of the room in most liberal social circles. It certainly isn’t applied to alcohol, a vice the wealthy embrace at a higher rate than any other economic group. And it isn’t currently applied to illegal IV drug use, where harm reduction measures like injection sights and needle exchanges are proposed in the same metropolitan areas where flavored vape products are outright banned.

Alcohol kills 3500 minors annually and sends 130,000 to the emergency room according to the CDC. With few wealthy Americans vaping, Bloomberg has shown no qualms about destroying an industry he does not understand. If the consciences of influential and wealthy crusaders against vaping are clean, it is because they are ignorant of the public crisis that they may be creating. 

The inevitable smoking crater their policies would create should be evident to anyone paying attention. Cigarette sales were up for the first time twenty years in 2021.

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