WATCH | Health experts say call to endorse vaping is “height of absurdity”

Model of the lungs created by Chibot for InterAksyon.

Public health think tank HealthJustice and anti-tobacco organization Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) have denounced a vapers’ group’s call for the Department of Health to promote e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to cigarettes.

“It would be the height of absurdity for the Department of Health to endorse vaping,” former Health Secretary Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, a board member of HealthJustice, said in a press release on Friday.

He continued, “As far as the national and international scientific and medical community is concerned, vaping or the use of electronic cigarettes is not completely safe because these still emit toxic chemicals.”

For her part, SEATCA Smoke-free Program Manager Dr. Domilyn Villarreiz pointed to studies that show vaping “involves the inhalation of nicotine at the same levels as cigarettes and can maintain nicotine addiction.”

She added that vaping makes it more likely for the person to develop “malignant and cardiovascular diseases.”

Fetuses in their mother’s womb, as well as adolescents in an environment where vaping occurs, can also be affected in terms of brain development.

She cited these as the reasons why vaping must be banned in all public places, in the same way that smoking is banned.

The World Health Organization, in a 2017 bulletin, explained that e-cigarettes “are devices that vaporize liquid, typically comprising nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerine, and flavourings.”

WHO said that switching from smoking tobacco cigarettes to using e-cigarettes “may reduce user harm, by supporting quitting or acting as a lower risk substitute,” but, “the degree of harm reduction is uncertain.”

It added that more research on the risks of using e-cigarettes is “desirable”.

HealthJustice and SEATCA also cited WHO’s 2016 report on e-cigarettes, which states that nicotine “seems to be involved in the biology of malignant diseases, as well as of neurodegeneration.”

The report also said: “Fetal and adolescent nicotine exposure may have long-term consequences for brain development, potentially leading to learning and anxiety disorders. The evidence is sufficient to warn children and adolescents, pregnant women, and women of reproductive age against ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems) use and nicotine.”

“The tobacco industry, which has run out of sensible arguments in favor of smoking, is now trying to position vaping as a healthy substitute to smoking. That is a lie,” Galvez Tan said.

On Sunday, the Philippine Daily Inquirer published the article “DOH urged: Endorse vaping”. It cited Prof. John Newton, the director of Health Improvement of Public Health England, as saying vaping is “95 percent less harmful” than cigarette smoking.

The Vapers Philippines head Tom Pinlac was quoted by the Inquirer as saying, “Listen to the experts… (It is) time for the Department of Health to look into this report so they can recommend e-cigarettes and heated-tobacco products to smokers who want to quit.”

Watch this snippet from “Huwag Mahiyang Magtanong: Live sa Baga Mo!”, where InterAksyon’s guest adult pulmonologist Dr. Percival Punzal discusses vaping: