Vapers in the Philippines lauded the latest position statement of the American Cancer Society (ACS) declaring the organization’s cautious support for e-cigarettes as a tool to help individuals quit smoking combustible tobacco products.
“These individuals should be encouraged to switch to the least harmful form of tobacco product possible; switching to the exclusive use of e-cigarettes is preferable to continuing to smoke combustible products,” according to the ACS position statement. While cautioning that the health effects of long-term e-cigarette use are not known, the ACS noted that currently available evidence show that using current generation e-cigarettes is less harmful than smoking cigarettes. The ACS stressed that 98% of all tobacco-related deaths in the U.S. are caused by cigarette smoking and acknowledged that the “U.S. tobacco landscape has changed rapidly in recent years, with millions of [American] consumers now using ENDS, the most prominent of which are e-cigarettes.”
“The ACS position statement is consistent with the Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians conclusions that e-cigarettes are at least 95 percent less harmful than conventional cigarettes and are a viable smoking cessation tool,” said Joey Dulay, president of the Philippine E-Cigarette Industry Association (PECIA). “We are hopeful that the Department of Health will look objectively at the growing body of evidence and eventually support the use of e-cigarettes to help the millions of Filipinos quit smoking.”
Dulay also appealed to legislators to craft an appropriate regulatory framework for e-cigarettes that is different from that of conventional cigarettes. “Doing so will encourage more Filipino smokers to switch to less harmful nicotine products and quit cigarettes all together.”
“While a cautious endorsement of e-cigarettes, the ACS position statement is aligned with the latest U.S. FDA policy roadmap, consensus study report of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine [NASEM], and the conclusions of Cancer Research UK, all of which underscore the potential role of e-cigarettes in reducing smoking-related harms,” said Tom Pinlac, President of The Vapers Philippines. “We urge the DOH and local legislators to look at the evidence and take decisive steps to include e-cigarettes in national tobacco control initiatives, a move that can help save millions of Filipino lives.”
Out of touch with scientific evidence
Meanwhile, The Vapers Philippines and PECIA expressed its dismay over the opposition of the Philippine Cancer Society (PCS) to a House Resolution which urges the Department of Health (DOH) to adopt harm reduction measures, particularly the use of e-cigarettes, as an alternative for smokers as part of the country’s National Tobacco Control Strategy.
In its position paper, the PCS stated it “opposes the adoption of use of e-cigarettes as an alternative to cigarette smoking.” The PCS criticized the Public Health England review for not conducting a “conclusive study” to support its conclusion that e-cigarettes may be contributing to falling smoking rates among adults and young people in the UK. “The behavioral pattern of using e-cigarettes is similar to smoking cigarettes and the harm it can potentially present to one’s health are already strong enough reasons to regulate or prohibit its use just like any kind of commercial product,” the PCS position paper stated.
“The PCS position is utterly out of touch with the preponderance of independent expert reviews—which include that of the PCS’ American counterpart, the ACS—supporting e-cigarettes as an effective tobacco harm reduction approach and a viable smoking cessation tool,” said Dulay.
“By coming out with a position paper that flies in the face of scientific evidence and logic, the PCS has revealed that it is beholden to the idea that the only way to reduce smoking is for smokers to ‘quit or die’. As such, the PCS is highly skeptical of the potential for new technologies, such as e-cigarettes, to reduce smoking-related harms,” said Pinlac.
Independent experts, U.S. FDA support e-cigarette use
Public Health England published its expert independent evidence review in August 2015 which concluded that e-cigarettes are around 95 percent less harmful than smoking and that e-cigarettes may be contributing to falling smoking rates among adults and young people in the UK. It found that almost all of the 2.6 million adults using e-cigarettes in Great Britain are current or ex-smokers, most of whom are using the devices to help them quit smoking or to prevent them going back to cigarettes. The review also provides reassurance that very few adults and young people who have never smoked are becoming regular e-cigarette users (less than 1% in each group).
In April 2016 the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) released its report “Nicotine without smoke: tobacco harm reduction”, which concluded that e-cigarettes are likely to be beneficial to UK public health. The RCP, the leading professional membership body for physicians in the UK and internationally, encouraged smokers to use e-cigarettes and reassured the public that e-cigarettes are much safer than smoking. It concluded that among smokers, e-cigarette use is likely to lead to quit attempts that would not otherwise have happened.
The latest U.S. FDA policy roadmap released in January 2018 pointed out that “nicotine…is not directly responsible for the cancer, lung disease, and heart disease that kill hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. It is the other chemical compounds in tobacco, and in the smoke created by setting tobacco on fire, that directly and primarily cause the illness and death – not the nicotine.” In line with its new approach, the U.S. FDA expressed its commitment to “take a fresh look” at electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) such as e-cigarettes “that can deliver satisfying levels of nicotine to adults who want access to it without burning tobacco.”
Released a few days after the new U.S. FDA policy roadmap, the NASEM expert report concluded that e-cigarette aerosol contains fewer numbers and lower levels of most toxicants found in smoke from combustible tobacco cigarettes. After analyzing a range of studies and outcomes, the expert review stated that, “e-cigarettes appear to pose less risk to an individual than combustible tobacco cigarettes.” It also found that more frequent use of e-cigarettes increases the likelihood of smoking cessation.
Cancer Research UK, the world’s largest independent cancer research charity, concluded that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking and are likely far closer to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), which has long been established as a much safer alternative to smoking. It also noted that e-cigarettes have become the most popular smoking cessation tool in England.