Study data on alternatives to smoking, DOH told
The Department of Health (DOH) should look at all available scientific data supporting the use of alternative tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or “vapes”), as tobacco harm reduction measures that have the potential of benefiting about 20 million smokers in the country.
Tom Pinlac, president of the consumer advocacy group The Vapers Philippines, made the call at the 1st Asia Harm Reduction Forum held recently in Jakarta, Indonesia.
“The government should have an open mind and study available data abroad,” he told the forum.
But Pinlac also underscored the need to conduct local studies to support independent research done in other countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom that shows that vaping was a less harmful alternative to tobacco smoking.
The regional forum gathered health practitioners, policymakers, academics and consumers from Australia, Greece, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand who exchanged insights on tobacco harm reduction measures.
It was organized by the Indonesia Public Health Observer Organization (Yayasan Pemerhati Kesehatan Publik), a nongovernmental organization that promotes public awareness on health issues in Indonesia.
Speaking as one of the panelists in the session “The Search for Less Harmful Alternatives—Consumers’ Perspective,” Pinlac told delegates that the Philippine vaping community and industry currently practiced self-regulation, with the Philippine E-cigarette Industry Association policing its own ranks to ensure that its members strictly observed their code of conduct.
He urged the government to create an appropriate local regulatory framework for e-cigarettes to protect the interests of the local vaping community as consumers and taxpayers.
Pinlac thanked the Philippine government for not including vaping in Executive Order No. 26, which restricted cigarette smoking in enclosed public places nationwide.
He said that since the smoking ban was imposed, more smokers had switched to e-cigarettes.
However, he criticized the DOH for seeking to ban e-cigarettes and vaping based on supposedly flawed information from the World Health Organization. —A. Noel Velasco
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