Philippines taking wrong direction with vape ban — experts

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is taking the wrong track in banning e-cigarettes and vaping products, according to global experts.

Doctors, scientists and academics from the US, Europe and Asia who had conducted studies and research all agreed that electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) products are much less harmful than combustible cigarettes.

During the recent 7th annual E-Cigarette Summit in London, experts presented their corroborating findings that e-cigarettes and vapes are an effective method to reduce tobacco harm and make smokers quit.

They also warned of possible repercussions of government policies banning ENDS – just as President Duterte adopted earlier this week.

Martin Jarvis, health psychology professor in the University College London, explained that banning e-cigarettes and vapes would reverse the positive results of the global tobacco harm reduction efforts.

“What we risk right now is the potential for inadvertently sending some people back to smoking or introducing them to smoking if they hadn’t smoked before because of the effort to stringently crack down on e-cigarettes like banning them entirely. We have to find a sensible middle ground,” Jarvis told a press conference.

Jarvis rebutted the claim that ENDS products are as harmful as combustible cigarettes and therefore should be treated and regulated equally.

“The pulmonary diseases have nothing to do with nicotine delivery. It has been established that nicotine from cigarette is not the culprit of smoking-related diseases, but rather the tar and other chemicals released through combustion,” he said, citing findings of several studies conducted in the UK.

Professor Tikki Elka Pangestu, from Lee Kuan Yew Public Policy School in National University of Singapore, supported this theory.

“What caused the illness and the death in the US is not vaping, but rather the contaminated cannabis oils which were purchased in the black market and therefore had no quality control. These substances like the Vitamin E acetate are contaminated and very dangerous when they go into the lungs,” he explained.

Pangestu cited a study by Public Health England – supported by similar studies in other countries – showing that vaping is 95 percent less harmful than burning cigarettes.

“People think you can get lung cancer and heart disease from nicotine in the cigarette. No, it’s not the nicotine that’s causing the problem. It’s the stuff that’s released when you burn the cigarette – a whole range of very toxic chemicals, including those that cause lung cancer. People have this wrong perception that it’s nicotine,” he clarified.

“Vaping is a lot less hazardous than cigarette smoking,” Jarvis stressed, also citing statistics from various studies.

Pharmacology professor Konstantinos Farsalinos from University of Patras in Greece made a similar finding.

“It’s hard to determine what caused pulmonary diseases of e-cigarette users since most of these people have also been tobacco or cigarette users for a long period,” he pointed out.

Farsalinos argued that arterial stiffness, which is dubbed in studies as “acute effect” of vaping use, is also acquired through caffeine intake. 

He further warned governments – including the Philippines – against following the standards on vapes set by the US Food and Drug Administration.

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