An alliance of consumer tobacco harm advocates in the Asia Pacific region has expressed its firm support to local vaping groups advocating for fair and reasonable regulation of e-cigarettes in the Philippines.
“Access to safer nicotine products such as e-cigarettes among adults who wish to use such products in lieu of combustible tobacco is a human right. We urge the Department of Health [DOH) and Philippine Food and Drug Administration [FDA] to acknowledge the scientific evidence supporting the reduced harm of electronic cigarettes and to not severely restrict their availability to adults based on outdated and scientifically flawed opinions,” according to a position paper released by the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA). CAPHRA members include consumer organizations from Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines and Thailand.
CAPHRA released the position paper to support the stand of The Vapers Philippines and the Philippine E-Cigarette Industry Association (PECIA), which took part in the DoH’s public consultation on the Draft Amendment of Administrative Order No. 2014-008 entitled “Rules and Regulation on Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS)”, which include e-cigarettes.
“We support fair and reasonable regulation of e-cigarettes to ensure the safety of adult vapers” said PECIA president Joey Dulay.
According to Dulay, the administrative order marginalizes current smokers and adult vapers who should have the right to choose safer nicotine products, such as e-cigarettes, that work for them. “If implemented, this administrative order will kill the local vape industry and unduly benefit the tobacco industry that has killed millions and will continue to cause the premature death of countless people.”
Peter Paul Dator, president of The Vapers Philippines, expressed utter frustration over the FDA proposal to set 25 as the minimum allowable age for the purchase and use of e-cigarettes, while the minimum age restriction for combustible cigarettes remains at 18. “How can such an irrational and unfair proposal even be considered?” Dator said.
In its position paper, CAPHRA cited Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which recognizes “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.” Contending that international law supports a harm reduction approach to tobacco control, CAPHRA also cited the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC), which urged FCTC Parties to emphasize “the special contribution of non-governmental organizations and other members of civil society not affiliated with the tobacco industry, including health professional bodies, women’s, youth, environmental and consumer groups, and academic and health care institutions, to tobacco control efforts nationally and internationally and the vital importance of their participation in national and international tobacco control efforts.” The Philippines is a Party to the FCTC.
CAPHRA called on government agencies and public health officials to accept peer-reviewed scientific studies on e-cigarettes and their effects on human health. “Public health officials have a mandated responsibility to provide evidence-based guidance on adult smokers’ access to such products so they can be informed of available harm-reduced options. They also have a mandated responsibility to disseminate the truth regarding scientific evidence in all matters related to public health, especially on tobacco harm reduction.” CAPHRA stressed that the general public deserves to receive accurate information that will help them make informed decisions based on facts and empower them to exercise their rights as afforded in Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The FDA has expressed concern that safer nicotine products such as e-cigarettes may serve as a “gateway” to smoking among the youth and that e-cigarette use damages cardiovascular health. The agency also claims that the harm caused by secondhand e-cigarette vapor is the same as that from secondhand combustible tobacco smoke, nicotine is detrimental to the developing brain, and e-cigarettes should have an age restriction of 25 or older while the combustible tobacco age restriction remains at 18 or older.
Through its position paper, CAPHRA aims to support PECIA and The Vapers Philippines in addressing the issues raised by the FDA through the presentation of peer-reviewed scientific evidence that justifies the rationale for risk-proportionate regulation of e-cigarette products in the Philippines.