Tobacco harm reduction experts worldwide are praising the country’s u-turn.
Last May, the House of Representatives for the Republic of the Philippines passed the Non-Combustible Nicotine Delivery Systems Regulation Act, also known as House Bill 9007, aimed at regulating the sale and manufacture of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products. Co-authored by 154 in the 300-man chamber for the House, the bill aims to prevent e-cig sales to minors.

When HB 9007 was passed, a number of local groups applauded the passage of the and launched the successful viral campaign, “We Vape, We Vote!” which appeals to President Rodrigo Duterte to sign the Vape Bill into law.

In response to the bill, tobacco harm reduction experts worldwide are praising the country’s u-turn. “The world is watching as the Philippines Senate looks set to approve the most progressive and risk-proportionate vaping legislation in Asia Pacific. We’re hoping other countries in the region will then follow their lead,” said Nancy Loucas, the Executive Coordinator of the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA).

The vape bill aims to provide Filipino smokers with safer nicotine alternatives

Other experts that have expressed their support of the bill are Prof. David Sweanor, advisory committee chair at the University of Ottawa Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics, Prof. David Nutt of the Imperial College of London, Prof. Peter Hajek of the Queen Mary University of London and Dr. Tom Glynn of Stanford University’s School of Medicine, are among the international experts who expressed support for the approval of the vape bill which is designed to provide Filipino smokers with less harmful alternatives to cigarettes.

“President (Rodrigo) Duterte can embolden entrepreneurs and empower consumers to unleash a public health revolution by signing the vaping law,” said Sweanor. Nutt referred to his research in reiterating the relative safety of vaping products. “My research nearly 10 years ago showed vaping to be at least 25 times less harmful than cigarettes and many subsequent studies have confirmed this risk ratio. The Philippines would surely benefit in the same way if vaping was encouraged over cigarettes like it is in the UK and New Zealand,” he said.

He added that concerns over teen vaping should not be taken out of context. “The fear that vaping will lead to young people taking up cigarettes has been shown to be unfounded by the US data that reveals the most dramatic declines in youth cigarette smoking ever on account of them using vaping instead.”

Vaping is a gateway out of (not into) smoking

Building on Nutt’s argument, Prof. Hajek, who has published over 300 papers on the topic, said that actually the products “deflect young nicotine seekers away from smoking,” rather than draw them towards as commonly assumed. He went on to mention the smoking cessation success that many smokers have experienced thanks to the products.

“Population data suggest they also help smokers who purchase them as a consumer product. The increase in the use of reduced-risk nicotine products and their sales have been accompanied by decreases in smoking prevalence and cigarette sales. The triangulated evidence suggests that EC helps smokers quit and have the potential to replace cigarettes on the population scale.”

“Smoking causes cancer, cardiovascular disease and lung disease. Replacing smoking with EC and HTP use would dramatically reduce smoking-related suffering and death. Good regulations encourage smokers to switch to these products. Regulations that make them less attractive to smokers are unethical and harm public health,” added Hajek.

While Dr. Glynn highlighted that while combined efforts have led to decreased smoking rates, this progress has stalled where policy was not based on science. “Good science has given us the clinical, policy, and advocacy tools to end cigarette smoking.  We now must end the conflict in the global tobacco control community and use those tools to move on to the cigarette smoking endgame and thus put the finishing touches on one of, if not the, greatest public health achievements of the past century,” he said.

The Philippines Health Department Joins Movement Opposing Vape Bill

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In-house journalist covering international vaping news.