House Resolution No. 1885 was filed by Reps. Anthony Bravo (Coop-Nattco) and Jose Tejada (PDP-Laban, North Cotabato) and urges the Department of Health (DOH) to endorse e-cigarettes as part of the national tobacco control strategy.
The DOH has so far maintained a prohibitionist stance against e-cigarettes. In December 2016, the DOH had declared that it agreed with the WHO’s position on avoiding potential risks for vapers, even though no such risks had been identified.
Then following a 2017 WHO statement, urging its member states to implement vaping bans, DOH Secretary Paulyn Ubial, had announced that the health department would proceed according to the WHO’s suggestions. In fact HR 1885 also contradicts a number of bills that have been filed in order to ban or regulate the use of e-cigarettes.
Bravo and Tejada’s measure points out that despite the government’s compliance with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and WHO’s instructions, “people still find a way to smoke.” “E-cigarettes offer an alternative. It is based on the idea of harm reduction: we can help smokers to switch from cigarettes to products that reduce the risks of smoking,” they added.
The PHE’s latest evidence review report
The authors referred to the renowned report by Public Health England (PHE) indicating the relative safety of the devices, and also cited a study by the Harvard School of Public health and the University of Massachusetts which showed that nicotine replacement therapies such as patches and chewing gums “do not help smokers quit smoking.”
“Public Health England observed that since e-cigarettes were introduced to the market, smoking prevalence among adults and youth has declined, disputing claims that e-cigarettes are renormalizing smoking, and surfacing reasonable possibility that their presence has contributed to further declines in smoking or denormalization,” HR 1885 stated.
The Philippines would benefit by following in the UK’s footsteps
Bravo and Tejada also cited a statement by the PHE’s director of Health and Well-being, Kevin Fenton, who pointed out that many smokers are quitting successfully thanks to e-cigarettes. “The Philippines can benefit from learning from the experience and studies in the United Kingdom which is at the forefront of smoking harm reduction exercises,” the House resolution added.
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