Groups representing over 200,000 vapers in the Philippines asked President Rodrigo Duterte to regulate, and not ban the use of electronic cigarettes which they said were scientifically found to be 95-percent less harmful than combustible cigarettes.
The Philippine E-cigarette Industry Association, the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates, The Vapers Alliance and the Nicotine Consumers Union of the Philippines said the president was ill-advised when he announced a ban on the use and importation of vapes (e-cigarettes).
“A ban on vaping will only worsen the smoking situation in the Philippines,” CAPHRA said in a statement.
“As an anti-smoker, it is as if the President is encouraging vapers to go back to smoking which is ironic. The scientific evidence that e-cigarettes are 95-percent less harmful was ignored/disregarded,” Clarisse Virgino, a CAPHRA Philippine representative, said.
“The use of e-cigarettes has been helping millions of smokers quit all over the world, and imposing a ban would only worsen the smoking problem. Health authorities should not make hasty decisions amid the US outbreak of lung illnesses. Let’s wait for the final results of the investigation,” it said.
PECIA said regulation is the best way to address concerns on e-cigarettes: “Although not risk-free, e-cigarettes are still much better alternatives to cigarettes.The planned executive order of the President should regulate the manufacture, sale and use of e-cigarettes.”
“We have always maintained that e-cigarettes are meant for adult smokers who want to switch to less harmful alternative products and should not be used by minors and non-smokers”, the statement said. PECIA has been pushing for regulation of e-cigarettes since 2013.
According to the World Health Organization, cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 harmful and potentially harmful chemicals. In comparison, aerosol emissions produced by vaping products have been reported to contain significantly less HPHCs.
A study conducted by researchers from University College London (UCL) in the UK, the country with the most advanced vaping regulations, showed that the use of e-cigarettes may help between 50,000 and 70,000 smokers in England quit every year, indicating that e-cigarette use had resulted in an accelerated drop in smoking rates.
“In the United Kingdom where e-cigarettes are regulated, there is zero incident of vaping-related lung injury. In the United States, there is zero regulation. That’s why you have a number of vapers getting sick,” the Vapers Alliance said.
Vapers Alliance said: “Reckless driving, and driving while under the influence of alcohol is deadly. Should we ban cars and alcohol? We cannot ban vaping simply because other people are not following the rules.”
The Department of Health earlier said about 1 million Filipinos use e-cigarettes.
The vapers groups said the problem actually stemmed from the government’s failure to regulate the e-cigarette industry and not from the alleged unknown chemicals contained in electronic nicotine delivery systems.
President Duterte reportedly plans to issue an executive order on e-cigarettes. The vapers groups said such EO should instead regulate the manufacture, sale and use of e-cigarettes.
“We have always maintained that e-cigarettes are meant for adult smokers who want to switch to less harmful alternative products and should not be used by minors and non-smokers,” PECIA said.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has noted that vitamin E acetate ‘as the chemical of concern; found in the lung fluids of 29 people who fell seriously ill or died in the outbreak in the United States.
The CDC report, although not yet final, said vitamin E acetate “might be used as an additive, most notably as a thickening agent in THC-containing e-cigarettes. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is a crystalline compound that is the main psychoactive ingredient of cannabis or marijuana.
“Nicotine is not the problem, it’s the smoke. Sadly, our president has been grossly misinformed on the dangers of nicotine. He’s been given bad advice. In fact, nicotine helps smokers quit. It’s even the main ingredient of nicotine replacement therapies. We thought the president wants smokers to quit,” NUCP said.