32 more countries ban e-cigarettes
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - November 15, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — At least 32 countries have joined the global bandwagon to ban electronic cigarettes, reiterating that such products are not an effective tool to curb regular smoking, experts told two Senate panels. 

Dr. Maricar Limpin of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Alliance told the Senate committees on health and on trade and commerce earlier this week that 32 countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia have decided to ban e-cigarettes. 

FCTC, the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO), entered into force in February 2005. 

Citing data from the WHO, Limpin also said 62 countries have put e-cigarettes under strict regulation, short of banning it. 

The Senate committees on health and trade are hearing proposals – Senate Bills 1538 and 1744 – to regulate the emergent e-cigarettes industry as health groups expressed reservations that more studies are needed. 

Among the countries that recently banned the sale and use of e-cigarettes are Australia, Cambodia, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand. 

Limpin said contrary to claims that e-cigarettes are accepted as a smoking cessation tool, more countries are either moving to ban or regulate the product.

“I think all of us agree and support regulation either by banning or restricting them,” Limpin told the joint committees working on consolidating the two bills. 

She also clarified that European studies linking e-cigarettes to lower smoking incidence were still inconclusive and unreliable. 

“There is still no study that shows that it is less harmful,” she said. 

She, however, also admitted that similar studies are also lacking that will confirm the ill-effects of e-cigarettes and link first-time youth smokers to use of devices. 

Roberto del Rosario of Action on Smoking and Health in the Philippines said any product that delivers sickness should be regulated. 

“If a cream used for the skin needs regulation, what more a product that enters our mouth?” Del Rosario said. 

Anti-tobacco groups likewise agreed that if such regulation takes place, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should be the regulating agency and not the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as preferred by vapers organizations. 

The anti-tobacco groups noted that securing a permit from FDA appears cheaper and faster as opposed to getting permit from DTI. 

Joey Dulay of the Philippine E-Cigarette Industry Association, however, said the FDA cannot be an impartial regulator since it has already pre-judged their product by saying that it is potentially harmful and should be regulated. 

Dulay said the tedious and long process of securing permit or clearance from FDA will also make it difficult for small vaping companies to comply. 

“It’s not wise to bring FDA into regulating the product,” he said, but that the group “may agree to FDA supervision” if the agency will act fairly and expeditiously on application for permit and license.          

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