Senator pushes EO regulating  e-cigs, vaping
The senator further warned the public against using vapes or e-cigarettes which poses a serious risk to health.
Geremy Pintolo/File
Senator pushes EO regulating e-cigs, vaping
Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - November 17, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA,Philippines — Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go said he would recommend to President Duterte to issue an executive order (EO) regulating the manufacture, distribution, sale and use of all types of e-cigarettes in the absence of a law.

Go expressed alarm over the reported possible incidence of e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury (EVALI) involving a 16-year-old girl in Central Visayas, as he echoed the call of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III for people to refrain from using vapes or e-cigarettes, as knowledge on the products is still limited.

He said the Department of Health (DOH) issued  Administrative Order (AO) 2019-0007, entitled “Revised Rules and Regulations on Electronic Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Delivery System” to update everyone on what the government is doing to regulate these products.

However, a court in Pasig City issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) based on a complaint filed by the Green Puff company and one Ryan Sazon, both distributors of e-cigarette juices and kits.

“Despite the TRO, and while there is still no bill passed in Congress, I will recommend to President Duterte to issue an executive order regulating the manufacture, distribution, sale and use of all types of e-cigarettes,” Go said in Filipino.

The senator further warned the public against using vapes or e-cigarettes which poses a serious risk to health.

“Good health is our investment towards a bright future, and that is why – like the position of our beloved President – we oppose the unregulated use of these products and how it is easily accessed by minors,” he added. 

To be confirmed

Duque said yesterday the findings on the 16-year-old girl, who may be the country’s first EVALI case, still has to undergo confirmatory tests.

In an interview, Duque said he asked the Research Institute for Tropical Medicines (RITM) to do “definitive tests” on the samples collected from the girl when she was brought for confinement at a Visayas region hospital late last month.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) will come up with “case rate” packages for those who may sustain EVALI or lung injuries associated with e-cigarettes  or vapes.

PhilHealth spokesperson Shirley Domingo has assured PhilHealth members that pending the determination of the parameters for EVALI, they will be covered when they get confined in hospitals for the “co-morbidity”of such lung injuries.

Lawmakers respond

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said vape or e-cigarette users prepare the content of their usage and can mix together chemicals and solutions to ensure it will emit thick smoke when used.

“When you mix in illegal things as well such as marijuana, cocaine or whatever juices, the effects change and become dangerous. Then when you say it’s candy, raspberry, strawberry (flavored), it attracts minors,” said Sotto in Filipino over dwIZ.

For his part, Sen. Sonny Angara said the use of vape by minors should be regulated since studies show that vaping is unsafe.

Leading the call for regulation, Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan, who chairs the House committee on health and is also a physician, said cigarette substitutes “are becoming popular either on the assumption that they pose less risk to conventional smoking-related diseases or are smoking cessation aids.”

House Deputy Majority Leader Bernadette Herrera, of party-list Bagong Henerasyon, described vaping as “a new public health menace that merits a forceful set of responses.”

She, along with Rep. Mike Defensor of Anakalusugan and Rep. Sharon Garin of AAMBIS-OWA who participated in the UK-Asia Harm Tobacco Reduction Dialogue in London, said they will pursue strict regulations on electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) products.

Meanwhile, Rep. Cristal Bagatsing of Manila 5th district proposed that an inter-agency body be formed to regulate ENDS products.

Experts cry ‘fake news’

However, experts worldwide debunked what they said are massive “fake news” and misinformation on e-cigarettes and vapes.

At the 7th annual E-Cigarette Summit, experts from the US, Europe and Asia presented studies disproving reports that ENDS products caused diseases and youth smoking epidemic, especially in the US.

Experts rebutted government claims on lung diseases and injuries attributed to vape use, as the Philippines has yet to confirm its first case of alleged EVALI. – With Edu Punay, Delon Porcalla, Jess Diaz, Sheila Crisostomo

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