An advocacy group lauded the Department of Health for favoring regulation over prohibition on vaping products.
The DOH adopted the position following a joint meeting of the House committee on trade and industry and the committee on health on Dec. 2 that tackled issues on electronic nicotine delivery systems and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems.
Dr. Lorenzo Mata, president of the Quit for Good movement, lauded the DOH’s stance to safeguard the people’s health, saying a total ban on vaping products could lead to unintended consequences.
“A clampdown on electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices can lead former cigarette users to take up the harmful habit of smoking once again—we definitely do not want that to happen, seeing how it has resulted in P 270 billion in healthcare and productivity losses for the country,” Mata said in an interview.
“It is imperative to make ENDS products available in the market to give adult smokers a viable and scientifically effective alternative to cigarette smoking,” he said.
Mata, in his remarks during the House hearing, cited various scientific studies presented in The E-Cigarette Summit in London, England last month that showed the efficacy of ENDS over nicotine replacement therapies.
He said that apart from spending more money, NRT users had lower success rates in doing away with tobacco smoking.
Another study, conducted by Hammond et al. and published in respected peer-review medical journal BMJ, disproved the claim of anti-tobacco organizations that e-cigarettes serve as a gateway to cigarette smoking, especially among the youth.
A survey conducted among high school students as part of the study showed that 56 percent of past smokers had become regular vapers, compared to nine percent of vapers who returned to cigarettes.
“If any, e-cigarettes are more often a gateway away from, than into, cigarette smoking,” the study indicated.
“These studies reaffirm that ENDS have been proven to be an effective tool in helping smokers reduce their nicotine consumption, if not quit its use altogether,” Mata said.
“We urge the government to adopt a legislative framework that would regulate ENDS similar to the United Kingdom.”
In the UK, e-cigarettes are regulated and promoted as a less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes by health officials. As a result, the country’s smoking prevalence dropped below 15 percent, or one million smokers fewer than in 2014, as more British smokers switched to the use of e-cigarettes.
The US is still debating whether to regulate or ban e-cigarettes amid an epidemic of youth vaping. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (recently identified Vitamin E acetate, the thickening agent in illicit products containing cannabis vaping liquid, as the most likely cause of EVALI.
“Through the reasonable regulation of the ENDS category, the country has the opportunity to lower the number of preventable diseases caused by smoking, increase the number of good health years of smokers and improve public health,” Mata said.
“That, I believe, is a step towards true universal healthcare,” he said.