Health expert: Rise in fatal illnesses among young vape users seen

Health expert: Rise in fatal illnesses among young vape users seen

By: - Reporter / @luisacabatoINQ
/ 05:38 PM June 14, 2024

These illegal vapes, presented during the Department of Health's media conference in Olongapo City on June 14, 2024, vary in flavors, packaging, sensation, and more, making them more attractive for youth.

These illegal vapes, presented during the Department of Health’s media conference in Olongapo City on June 14, 2024, vary in flavors, packaging, sensation, and more, making them attractive to the younger generation. INQUIRER.net / LUISA CABATO

SUBIC BAY, Zambales — A tobacco cessation expert warned on Friday that more Filipino youths who use electronic cigarettes or vape are at risk of developing fatal diseases.

This warning was based on a Global Youth Tobacco Survey conducted in 2019, which revealed that one out of seven Filipino youths ages 13 to 15 are vapers, Action on Smoking and Health executive director Dr. Maricar Limpin said.

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READ: As vaping ‘epidemic’ grips PH youth, tobacco sellers flout law vs targeting kids

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When asked if vape usage among youngsters could potentially lead to more serious problems such as lung and heart diseases, and even cancer, Limpin answered “yes.”

“Yes, it’s definitely a yes. As we’ve seen with the 22-year-old, very young, nagkaroon na agad ng lung disease,” she said in a media conference, referring to the first ever recorded case of vape-related death in the country.

(Yes, it’s definitely a yes. As we’ve seen with the 22-year-old, he’s very young but already developed a lung disease.)

READ: Vapedemic kills 22-year-old; DOH-FDA should regulate, not DTI

“It’s not just one patient; unfortunately, we are now seeing more and more patients. That’s why we are sounding the alarm,” Limpin added.

One of them is a 16-year-old patient from Cebu who developed an acute lung injury suspectedly because of vaping, she said.

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Limpin added that one young patient complained to her of shortness of breath after shifting to vaping from cigarettes after hearing that it was a safer alternative — a claim that experts have already debunked.

Because each person’s body differs, Limpin noted that there is no exact timeline on when the effects of vaping will begin to manifest.

But aside from lung and heart diseases—which are commonly known detrimental effects of vaping—Limpin noted that it could also potentially cause cancer and damage to the DNA make-up.

“‘Pag nag vape ka, nilalanghap mo sa usok ‘yung mga chemical na nagko-cause ng cancer. Pupunta yan sa ating respiratory systems, hindi ‘yan nagii-stop sa baga. ‘Pag dating sa baga, ‘yung mga chemicals na ‘yan na nagko-cause ng cancer magsi-circulate ‘yan sa dugo,” Limpin explained.

(When you vape, you inhale the smoke that contains chemicals that cause cancer. These will go into our respiratory systems, and they don’t stop at the lungs. When they reach the lungs, those chemicals that cause cancer will circulate in the blood.)

“‘Yung cancer causing agents na ‘yan pwedeng mag create ng pagbabago sa lahat ng cells natin, mapa puso, mapa baga, mapa bibig, mapa liver, o kaya ‘yung sikmura kasi dala-dala siya ng sirkulasyon,” she added.

(Those cancer-causing agents can create changes in all our cells, whether it’s in the heart, lungs, mouth, liver, or even the stomach, because they are carried by the circulation.)

But why is vape so popular with the youth?

The answer lies with its social appeal, unique flavors, and pleasing sensation, a report titled “An Analysis of E-Cigarette, Heated Tobacco Product, and Novel Tobacco Product Flavors in the Philippines; Regulatory Challenges and Opportunities,” said.

The said report also showed that the e-cigarette flavors in the country are quickly diversifying, with menthol, fruity, sweet, and beverage flavored vapes circulating in the market.

Limpin said that vapes on sweet, menthol, and fruity flavors are the best-selling among the youth.

With that, Limpin once again reiterated her call to bring back the regulation of vape use from the Department of Trade and Industry to the Food and Drug Administration as it is more of a health than a trade issue.

Meanwhile, Department of Education Assistant Secretary Dexter Galban, who was also present at the event, said that the agency is intensifying its efforts to raise awareness about the negative impacts of vaping among youths.

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He said that topics on vaping and other tobacco products, as well as nicotine content, will be included in different subjects under the MATATAG K–10 curriculum.

TAGS: child health, Diseases, vape

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