Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
Anti-tobacco group Health Justice Philippines is pushing for the regulation of electronic cigarettes, saying this products will put to waste efforts to reduce the consumption of traditional cigarettes. It is asking for the Department of Health, Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Trade and Industry to have control over the sale of e-cigarettes in the country.
Bernadette Esguerra-Huggins of HJP said “Business is booming for manufacturers and sellers of e-cigarettes who have been casually throwing around word that their products are safe alternatives to tobacco.” She laments that this “baseless claim” is causing many people to buy e-cigarettes which also “contain nicotine and more chemicals than the manufacturers and sellers are willing to disclose.”
Huggins said there are over 8,000 varieties of tobacco juices and flavors, and “it is imperative that people be warned about and protected from the potential health risks posed by these products.”
HJP managing director Jacky Sarita said the DOH and FDA should have full regulatory powers over e-cigarettes, pursuant to Article 109 of the Consumer Act of the Philippines or Republic Act 7394 on advertisement and sales promotion with respect to food, drugs, cosmetics, devices and hazardous substances.
Sarita and Huggins maintained in a statement that “the right to health is paramount over the right to trade so the implementation of such a regulation should belong to the DOH and FDA.”
E-cigarettes are considered less harmful than smoking since they contain no tobacco and do not involve combustion, but they cannot be considered harmless. A 2014 World Health Organization report has cautioned about potential risks of using e-cigarettes. Until there is definitive proof that it is harmless, the push to regulate e-cigarettes makes sense, especially if the health and welfare of the general public is to be given primary consideration.
Because the safety of e-cigarettes cannot be guaranteed, it would seem only normal for government regulation regarding its use, especially in public, to be given due attention. If groups like HJP are pushing for regulation, groups that insist it is harmless should be able to defend their claims. What is important is for government to start the conversation so that a decision can be reached soon.*