Vaping spreads COVID-19 faster – health experts

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star
Vaping spreads COVID-19 faster â health experts
“Vaping is spreading COVID-19 faster,” Dr. Riz Gonzales, chair of the PPS’s Tobacco Control Advocacy Group, said in a virtual briefing last Wednesday.
Edd Gumban, file

MANILA, Philippines — To prevent a further spread of the coronavirus disease in the country, health experts from the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) renewed their call for an immediate ban on the use of vapes or e-cigarettes.

“Vaping is spreading COVID-19 faster,” Dr. Riz Gonzales, chair of the PPS’s Tobacco Control Advocacy Group, said in a virtual briefing last Wednesday.

Gonzales said the PPS is still gathering actual data, but based on information they received, many of the new COVID-19 cases are workers who are smokers and vapers.

“We are seeing incidence of COVID in the workplace, especially in call centers, which are enclosed spaces and the pastime (of workers) is to smoke or to vape. That’s why we are not surprised that when the economy reopened in June, more of the COVID cases reported are coming from the workplaces and smoking per se is a factor in that,” she said.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said there is no Philippine data on the subject, but based on international evidence, smokers are more prone to having severe and critical condition of COVID-19.

Gonzales said data from other countries indicated that 8.5 percent of COVID-19 cases are smokers.

“These data have shown the association of COVID and smoking. This is our best time (to act). Let us not wait for our (COVID) numbers to explode. The victims are coming from the young, the vapers,” she stressed.

Gonzales explained that vape produces aerosol, which not only carries potentially deadly chemicals, but may also carry the virus.

“Using vapes puts users and household members at risk because there is such a thing as second-hand smoke,” Gonzales said, noting that the aerosol produced by the device that are inhaled by users can also be inhaled by people near them.

Gonzales said health experts are urging local government units (LGUs) to implement the laws against smoking and vaping.

“Please regulate or more to stop vaping now,” she said, citing data that smoking causes 150,000 deaths a year, far more than the deaths due to COVID-19.

Meanwhile, e-cigarette consumers made their own call for government to issue “impartial and reasonable” regulations on the use of vapes and heated tobacco products (HTPs).

“Science, and there is an abundance of curated and peer-reviewed studies out there, that should be the basis of regulation, not political or ideological agenda,” Lorenzo Mata Jr., who heads the group Quit for Good, said in a statement.

He said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should listen to scientific evidence and do its job of regulating and not restricting noble products.

Mata argued that vaping is less harmful to health than lighting cigarettes.

“The vaping industry is being treated unfairly. We are not the enemy here. Combustible cigarettes that bring 88,000 deaths per year are our common enemy. Why is vaping treated worse that smoking?” he said.

Others groups urged the FDA to include e-cigarette users in the discussion prior to the drafting of the guidelines on the marketing and use of e-cigarettes in the country.




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