Philippines: Duque: No proof e-cigarettes are healthier smoking option

5 June 2019
Jovic Yee

MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III warned the public on Wednesday against the use of electronic cigarettes, stressing that there was still not enough proof that such devices were indeed harmless to health.

Duque said that, following the passing in Congress of a higher tobacco tax, the e-cigarette industry had been pushing harder its claim that electronic cigarettes were healthier alternatives to tobacco products.

He stressed that the public should not be deceived as there was “no sound evidence” to support the claim.

“I’m aware of the claims that e-cigarettes contain fewer toxic chemicals and are therefore good alternatives to smoking,” Duque said. “There is no scientific proof yet that can say e-cigarettes are completely harmless. For the DOH [Department of Health], there is absolutely no acceptable level of harm especially when Filipino lives are put to risk.”

While the tax on tobacco will have an annual adjustment of P5 through 2023 and 5 percent thereafter, e-cigarettes and other nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems will only be imposed a P10 tax per 10 milliliters of the substance it uses.

Duque vowed that in the 18th Congress the DOH would lobby to set a higher tax for other sin products, including e-cigarettes.

“We must remember that the harmful use of these products can also affect a community,” he said. “Secondhand smoking affects nonsmokers or excessive use of alcohol can lead to road [crashes]. The DOH will continue to work toward progressive policies that uphold the health and well-being of the Filipino people.”