Philippines: Vapes, e-cigs serious health hazards

6 November 2021

Mar T. Supnard.  Source: Daily Tribune

Medical opinion and public opinion are in agreement: Vapes and e-cigarettes are harmful to Filipinos’ health.

Sixty-six percent of those who use vapes and e-cigarettes support a ban on flavors that appeal to children, according to Pulse Asia

In a statement, the survey firm said that almost 8 in 10 Filipinos (or 77 percent) believe that vaping devices and e-cigarettes are a serious health hazard.

The survey also reported that 74 percent of the respondents support a “100 percent e-cigarette or vapes-free policy” in public places while 70 percent support a policy that restricts age accessibility to vapes and e-cigarettes at 21 years old and above.

The fieldwork for the survey was conducted among 1,200 respondents and from 6 to 11 September.

The survey results were released as Senators are set to resume their deliberations next week on Senate Bill 2239 or the Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Act, more commonly referred to as the “Vape Bill.”

Advocacy groups have criticized the measure as a “betrayal of public health,” citing provisions that roll back the minimum age of access to these products from the current 21 years old to 18 years old, among others.

Dr. Maricar Limpin of the Philippine College of Physicians urged Senators to “junk the measure” echoing the position of the medical community against vapes and e-cigarettes’ adverse health effects, citing studies that have shown that the products contain cancer-causing agents.

At least seven former health secretaries and 60 medical groups previously opposed the bill’s provisions that will ease restrictions on the use of flavorings, shift the mandate to regulate such devices from from the Food and Drug Administration to the Department of Trade and Industry, and allow vaping in public places, schools, and hospitals.

“Medical opinion and public opinion are in agreement: Vapes and e-cigarettes are harmful to Filipinos’ health,” Dr. Limpin said. “Senators should heed the call of Filipinos and their doctors and reject the Vape Bill,” she added.

“Proponents of the Vape Bill are claiming that vapes and e-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to smoking and help smokers quit. This is not true. There are real health harms in these devices and there is not enough evidence to claim that they help smokers quit,” said the physician.

“In fact, it has been shown in other countries that a higher percentage of people who use e-cigarettes still continue to use traditional cigarettes which presents even greater harm,” Dr. Limpin also said.

Ban on flavors that appeal to children
Public interest law group ImagineLaw also pointed out that stricter regulation of vape and e-cigarette devices are sought out even among those who use such devices. In the same survey, 62 percent of respondents (and 66 percent of respondents who use such devices) said that they will support a ban on the availability and accessibility of e-cigarette and vape flavors that appeal to children and youth (e.g. cotton candy, fruity).