Amid the rising popularity of electronic cigarettes and the escalating tension between groups that view it as an alternative to smoking and those that see it as equally if not more dangerous than cigarettes, a health group calls for their total ban.
HealthJustice Philippines, a public health think tank with legal expertise in tobacco control and health promotion, appealed to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to impose a total ban on electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems (ENDS/ENNDS), more popularly known as e-cigarettes.
“We call on President Duterte to impose a ban on selling, distribution and use of e-cigarettes, vapes and all products necessary and incidental to the use thereof, just as he had done in Davao City. The purpose is to protect the lives and health of the people, especially the youth, who would otherwise fall prey to the these deadly commodities,” said Mary Ann Fernandez Mendoza, President of HealthJustice.
Duterte has always been staunchly against smoking. Under his leadership, Davao City earned recognition as World Health Organization’s (WHO) model city for the strong and effective implementation of tobacco control policies.
In May 2017, Duterte signed the “smoke-free” Executive Order, or E.O. 26, which banned smoking in public spaces and enclosed public spaces.
“Vaping remains to be associated with significant health risks. The best course of action today is to totally ban it to avoid further endangering public health and safety,” Fernandez Mendoza added.
According to a 2014 report by the WHO, “ENDS use poses serious threats to adolescents and fetuses. In addition, it increases exposure of non-smokers and bystanders to nicotine and a number of toxicants.”
Based likewise on a 2018 study by the The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, “there is conclusive evidence that in addition to nicotine, most e-cigarettes contain and emit numerous potentially toxic substances.
The same study suggests the use of e-cigarettes is a gateway to smoking: “Among youth — who use e-cigarettes at higher rates than adults do — there is substantial evidence that e-cigarette use increases the risk of transitioning to smoking conventional cigarettes.”
Researchers for University of California in San Francisco, on the other hand, conducted a study among e-cigarette users, traditional cigarette consumers and those who use or consume neither. The authors stated that “the presence of harmful ingredients in e-cigarette vapor has been established; we can now say that these chemicals are found in the body of human adolescents who use these products.”
In the Philippines, smoking kills 10 people every hour.
HealthJustice Philippines is a Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control. It is a Programme Partner under the NCD Alliance, an international network of experts, advocates, and organizations working to decrease the burden of non-communicable diseases worldwide.
Download press release here.