Following an advisory from the Food and Drug Administration that electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are harmful to health, department Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial said they will study if it can be included in the implementing rules and regulations of Executive Order No. 25, which bans smoking nationwide.
A 2013 advisory from the FDA warned that “secondhand exposure to e-cigarette emission which may lead to adverse health effects cannot be excluded.
The same FDA advisory noted that the levels of most harmful substances are lower in the e-cigarettes than in conventional cigarette smoke, but they do accumulate in indoor air.
“If several people are using e-cigarettes in a room at the same time, considerable indoor air pollution will accumulate and may result to harmful second-hand exposure,” also read the FDA advisory.
While e-cigarettes are not covered by EO No. 26, Ubial said they will look into the possibility of its inclusion in the IRR.
The DoH is in the process of crafting the IRR of EO 26 with various government offices but has excluded any representative from the tobacco industry because “we don’t think that their representation in fact will add value to the executive order.”
The DoH expects to come out with the IRR of the national smoking ban before President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his second State-of-the Nation Address.
Ubial said the effectivity of Executive Order 26 or the national smoking ban is 60 days after its signing. It will take effect in July 16.
The EO, which provides for the establishment of smoke-free environment in public and enclosed spaces, was patterned after the Davao City ordinance “when it was in the early years of implementation.”
Ubial said the EO covers LGUs that have not passed local ordinances on tobacco control.
She also said thaf while e-cigarettes were not specifically mentioned in the EO, an earlier FDA
advisory had said that “it cannot be undertaken indoors or [in] enclosed places.”Ubial also disclosed they are already working on bringing to the Philippines a technology that will detect ambient nicotine present indoors —whether it’s from cigarettes or e-cigarettes.
“Like in this particular room, if there’s nicotine, even if nobody is smoking here but people who used the room before you came in smoked, then that gadget can detect it,” Ubial explained.
She added that “even if they only use vape and there is ambient nicotine or vapors or particles, that’s what the gadget can detect, so they don’t even have to prove that it’s harmful to other people. Once we’ve detected that there’s nicotine, even if they’re using e-cigarettes, then that is already a proof that it is not 100 percent smoke-free, so there’s violation of the executive order.”
Ubial said the technology is already available in the United Kingdom.
An August 2016, World Health Organization (WHO) report on e-cigarettes or Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems and Electronic Non-Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS/ENNDS) said scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of these devices as a smoking cessation aid “is scant and of low certainty, making it difficult to draw credible inferences.
“While it is likely that both are “less toxic than cigarette smoke,” the WHO report said that they “are unlikely to be harmless.”
A decision adopted during the recent 7th session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in India invited parties that have not yet banned the importation, sale, and distribution of ENDS/ENNDS to consider either prohibiting or regulating such products.