Rethinking the Philippines' E-Cigarette Law: Manila Standard Editorial
The large Philippine newspaper Manila Standard recently published an editorial calling for a reassessment of the country's e-cigarette bill.
On July 25, 2022, the Republic Act No. 11900 was enacted in the Philippines with the aim of regulating the importation, sale, packaging, distribution, use, and promotion of "vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products, as well as new tobacco products such as vape and heated tobacco products." However, in the past two years since its introduction, the law has lowered the age restriction for such products from 21 to 18 years old, lifted the ban on smoking and using heated tobacco products in public places, and allowed advertising and promotion of these products.
The law allows for the online sale of products with nicotine concentrations not exceeding 65 milligrams per milliliter (6.5%), and lowers the legal purchasing age from 21 to 18. This means that more young people will be able to use e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking (the legal age to purchase cigarettes is 18).
The editorial argues that this law overlooks the fact that tobacco is the highest risk factor for causing deaths and disabilities in both smokers and non-smokers in 2019.
It is estimated that tobacco use was responsible for over 112,112 deaths, accounting for 27% of the total deaths in the Philippines that year.
According to researchers, 96,000 deaths (85%) are caused by smoking, while 22,000 deaths (19%) are caused by secondhand smoke. It is estimated that approximately 8 million people die prematurely every year due to cigarette smoke, which is a complex mixture of chemicals combined with aerosol particles or present in the gas phase. This has been a major health issue for several decades.
The report also noted that the main reasons why students use e-cigarettes include easy online access (32%), flavors (22%), and a perception that e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes (17%).
Editorial: The editorial asserts that e-cigarettes have not been around for a long time, and authorities are still uncertain about the long-term risks associated with their use. While the harm posed by vaping is considerably lesser than smoking, it cannot be deemed entirely harmless. This is where the problem lies. Therefore, the healthiest choice would be to abstain from smoking or vaping altogether.
The editorial also quotes health experts saying, "If someone uses e-cigarettes to quit smoking, their ultimate goal should be to eventually quit using e-cigarettes." The article further mentions that according to research, emerging data suggests a link between e-cigarettes and chronic lung diseases and asthma. Additionally, using both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes has also been associated with cardiovascular diseases.
In conclusion, there is not much difference between smoking and using e-cigarettes, as stated in the editorial. People generally believe that smoking is more harmful because the products are burned and smoke is inhaled into the lungs. However, research has shown that the damage caused by heating and inhaling solution vapor into the lungs is very similar to that of smoke. Based on this, the report calls for a reevaluation of the country's e-cigarette legislation.
The Manila Standard newspaper was established on February 11, 1987. It is controlled by the Romualdez political family, specifically the current Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ferdinand Martin Gomez Romualdez.
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