Antismoking advocates support bill curbing sale of e-cigarettes
MANILA, Philippines–Medical groups and antismoking advocates are supporting a measure filed in Congress seeking to regulate the production and sale of electronic cigarettes, which are being marketed as an alternative to smokers who want to kick the bad habit.
The Philippine College of Physicians (PCP), the Framework Convention Tobacco Control Alliance-Philippines (FCAP) and the New Vois Association of the Philippines separately said they believe the sale, marketing and promotion of e-cigarettes must be subjected to government control.
“E-cigarettes should indeed be regulated because they contain nicotine and other chemicals, including industrial solvents that are injurious to health,” said FCAP executive director Maricar Limpin.
She added that since the battery-operated variant of cigarettes were being promoted by manufacturers as “healthy alternative” to the real thing, they should submit studies to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to support their claims.
In 2009, a US FDA study showed that e-cigarette cartridges contain traces of tobacco-specific nitrosamines, cancer-causing compounds commonly found in traditional cigarettes although at a much lower concentration.
The FDA also found diethylene glycol, a component of antifreeze and brake fluids, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has categorized as a poison, which can cause kidney damage, respiratory failure and nerve dysfunction when exposed to high quantities.
PCP president Anthony Leachon said the organization was supporting the proposed bill filed by Parañaque City Rep. Eric Olivarez to prevent potential health risks among e-cigarette users and non-users.
House Bill No. 5093 proposed that standards must be set in the production, marketing and sale of e-cigarettes. Health warnings on its packaging must also be required, according to the bill.
“I agree with the proposed bill because while e-cigarettes represent an evolving technology or device filled with promise and threat for tobacco control, strict regulations are needed to minimize potential health risks to users and non-users,” Leachon told reporters.
For his part, NVAP president Emer Rojas said anything sold and consumed by people must be properly regulated by the government. “If e-cigarettes are considered medical gadgets, they should be regulated by the FDA,” said Rojas.
With the popularity of e-cigarettes, many Filipino puffers are trying to kick the smoking habit by slowly patronizing these gizmos as an effective nicotine replacement therapy despite the lack of study on their safety and efficacy.
Earlier, the WHO had called on all governments to regulate the sale of e-cigarettes as there was no proof that using them was safe and could really help people kick the smoking habit. It also disclosed a trend in other countries, where people using e-cigarettes ended up smoking the real thing.
The FDA had also issued advisories warning the public that the electronic smoking device was not emissions-free and contained “volatile organic substances” harmful to one’s health, like propylene glycol and carcinogenic metals like nickel and chromium.