By Chito Chavez
Cause-oriented groups Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Philippines and the EcoWaste Coalition on Saturday have joined the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) in calling for the ban of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products to prevent a new epidemic of nicotine addiction.
As this year’s World No Tobacco Day theme highlights the tobacco industry’s tactics to target the youth with cigarettes and novel tobacco products, both groups and their partners urged the legislators to consider the ban or strict regulation of e-cigarettes, which is becoming increasingly popular among the youth.
“As these products do not have extensive evidence to back up claims on efficacy and safety, we encourage the government to be cautious in drafting policies on this subject. We wish them to always prioritize health over any other interests. If we really want to provide maximum protection to Filipinos’ health, banning these products is still the best option,” said ASH Philippines Executive Director and pulmonologist Dr. Maricar Limpin.
Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition also highlighted that e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products do not only pose a greater risk for health but also in the environment.
“Aside from nicotine, these products may contain toxic chemicals and can potentially leak heavy metals into the environment. As such, they may be qualified as both e-waste and biohazard waste. We already have issues in terms of conventional cigarette butts as the most visible toxic litter in our surroundings, we are expecting that the disposal of e-cigarettes along with its components is another environmental health hazard,” said Thony Dizon, chemical safety campaigner of EcoWaste Coalition.
A recently released position paper from The Union analyzed scientific evidence regarding the health effects of novel nicotine products and cautions policymakers to be especially vigilant as these novel tobacco products to hook new users and expand the nicotine market in their own countries.
Even if it is marketed as a safer alternative that has fewer toxins compared to traditional cigarettes, The Union noted it is becoming increasingly apparent that e-cigarettes possess their own unique health harms and that comparison to cigarettes should not be the only relevant question in determining its impact to health.
Last year, the Department of Health (DOH) recorded the first case of e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury (EVALI) from a 16-year-old girl from the Visayas which sparked the call for regulation of the novel tobacco products in the Philippines.