(September 9, 2019) – Manila, Philippines) Leaders of nonprofit health groups made it clear to senators last September 5 that vapes are harmful to health during the hearing on increasing excise taxes on heated tobacco products and e-cigarettes.
Philippine Pediatric Society, HealthJustice Philippines and Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance participated in the public hearing on Package 2+ of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program conducted by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. If approved, this tax program will increase excise tax rates on heated tobacco products, electronic nicotine delivery systems, and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems, otherwise known as “vapes”— a favorable outcome to the health groups.
Dr. Riz Gonzalez of the Philippine Pediatric Society debunked industry claims that vapes are “less harmful” alternatives to cigarettes as misleading. “The health harms are real; already five people have died in the US related to vaping,” said Gonzalez. “We need to learn from the US where the US Surgeon General has declared a teen vaping epidemic. Vapes have been linked to numerous critical illnesses, freak accidents, and even deaths in different parts of the world. By raising taxes, we make vapes and similar products beyond the reach of our children.”
Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, Executive Director of SEATCA, pointed out during the hearing that heated tobacco products are in fact unsafe. “Independent research shows that heated tobacco products like IQOS release the same harmful chemicals as conventional cigarettes. While the levels of these chemical emissions may be lower compared to conventional cigarettes, there is no evidence that lower exposure equates to reduced risk of harm,” Dorotheo emphasized
“Now that the harms of vapes and heated tobacco products have been exposed in public, our Senators should take action to prevent mass experimentation among our youth. We don’t want to backtrack in the future and question how we allowed a new nicotine epidemic to happen,” said Mary Ann Fernandez-Mendoza, President of HealthJustice Philippines. “If vapes aren’t totally banned in our country as recommended by the World Health Organization and adopted by other countries, then strong regulations against advertisement and flavoring, among others, should also be put in place to prevent another nicotine epidemic among our youth.” Fernandez-Mendoza added.
The next Senate hearing on the proposed tax increase on e-cigarettes is on September 11, 2019.
Philippine Pediatric Society is the primary national medical association advocating for child health.
HealthJustice is a Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control. It is a think tank with legal expertise in public health and tobacco control.
SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance assisting ASEAN countries in implementing evidence-based tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. It is a WHO World No Tobacco Day Awardee and a recipient of the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award.
Download here: Press Release – Debunk less harmful