Vapes are not a safer, better option: Leachon

23 January 2024

By Jonathan de Santos, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Loose regulation and the belief that it is better than smoking has led to the popularity of e-cigarettes or vapes, health reform advocate Tony Leachon said Tuesday as he warned of a “vapedemic” in the Philippines.

Speaking on TeleRadyo Serbisyo, Dr. Leachon — a former adviser to the Department of Health — warned that harmful chemicals in cigarettes are also found in vape liquid and pose a health risk to the youth and to those trying to quit smoking.

Citing a study at a university in Kentucky, Leachon said e-cigarette use increases the risk of developing cardiovascular issues.

“Kasi akala mo kasi na hindi siya harmful. Kasi pinosition siya na parang step-down therapy sa paninigarilyo o harm reduction,” he said.

He said that vape users also inhale acetaldehyde and formaldehyde that can cause lung disease and cardiovascular disease.

“Nahalina ang mga tao kasi akala nila mas safe,” he said, adding that some vape liquids have menthol and fruit flavors, making them more appealing to users.

“Mas maraming kabataan ang madadale nito,” he also said, adding online sales make it easier for the youth to get e-cigarettes.

The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) earlier this month called on the Philippines to ban vapes, saying “they are harmful and are prolonging the tobacco pandemic.” 

Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, executive director of SEATCA, said that claims that vapes reduce harm are unproven and are deceptive.

“It is more accurate to say this is harm initiation for youths that have never smoked and harm substitution for smokers trying to quit,” he said.

Around 14 percent of Filipino students between 13 and 15 use vapes, according to the 2019 Global Youth Tobacco Survey conducted by the World Health Organization.