Experts warn that vaping is hazardous to your health

- By Claudeth Mocon-ciriaco

If you want to quit smoking, vaping is not the best option. This was stressed by Healthjust­ice Philippine­s, a non-government organizati­on, that expressed alarm over the pending Senate Bill 2239 titled “An Act Regulating the Importatio­n, Manufactur­e, Sale, Packaging, Distributi­on, Use, And Communicat­ion of Vapor Products and Heated Tobacco Products [HTPS],” or commonly known as the Vape Bill, which would encourage people, especially the youth to try vaping.

Healthjust­ice is strongly opposed to this bill as it is anti-children and anti-health for it allows those who are 18 years old to purchase and use the vaporized nicotine products (VNP), such as vapes and HTPS, will allow online sales and does not ban fruit and candy flavors that are attractive to children.

Vapes, e-cigarettes not safe

FORMER Health Secretary Dr. Jaime Galvez-tan, a trustee of Healthjust­ice Philippine­s, maintained that vapes and e-cigarettes are not safe.

This was also the stand of other health profession­als.

On August 31, Tuesday, more than 60 medical organizati­ons and tobacco control advocacy groups also called on the Senate to junk Senate Bill 2239.

The bill, which claims to regulate the sale, packaging, advertisem­ent, and promotion of electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems (ENDS/ENNDS) and heated tobacco products (HTPS), is described as “anti-health and regressive” by leading medical organizati­ons, including the Philippine Medical Associatio­n, Philippine College of Physicians, Philippine Pediatric Society, Philippine Academy of family Physicians, Philippine College of Surgeons, Philippine Nurses Associatio­n, Philippine Dental Associatio­n, and other health profession­al organizati­ons and health advocacy groups.

Dr. Galvez-tan also slammed the proposed bill in the Senate for endorsing vaping as an alternativ­e for those who want to quit smoking.

“As far as the national and internatio­nal scientific and medical community is concerned, vaping or the use of electronic cigarettes are harmful and not safe because these still emit toxic chemicals,” Dr. Galvez-tan pointed out.

The former DOH official also refuted what the tobacco industry is saying that vaping is a “safe” alternativ­e.

“According to studies here and abroad, there is no difference between smoking and vaping because they both maintain the addiction,” Dr. Galveztan stressed.

He emphasized that what they don’t want to happen is for teenagers aged 13 to 15, to be lured to using vapes that come in different colors and flavors. “Per our tobacco control experience, children are attracted to smoking due to the flavors. That also applies to vaping,” Dr. Galvez-tan said.

“If you want to quit smoking, then start with yourself or ask assistance from the DOH quitline number 1558,” he said as he appealed to the youth not to try VPN and HTPS.

Healthjust­ice also reiterated that quitting smoking through approved cessation services like nicotine patch therapy, is the best way to quit, given that it is already a proven safe way to stop the deadly addiction.

The goal of cessation, Healthjust­ice emphasized, is to stop smoking and end nicotine dependence and “not to shift” smokers to a new nicotine addiction which have been proven to cause EVALI or e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury.

Senate interpella­tion

SEN. Risa Hontiveros, during the interpella­tion period on the bill on August 3, raised three issues: (1)The appropriat­e age for a person to be allowed to use the vaping products and heated products; (2)the removal of the restrictio­ns on flavored vaping products; (3)and the role of the food and Drugs Administra­tion.

“The sale of flavored novel products such as cherry, bubble gum and chocolate marshmallo­ws would appeal to the minors,” Hontiveros said noting that under the current law or Republic Act 11467, only vaping products with plain menthol and plain tobacco flavors are allowed in the market.

She also cited a National youth Tobacco Survey conducted in the United States in 2020, showing that e-cigarette users using flavored products among middle and high school increased to 82.5 percent in 2020 from 68.6 percent in 2019.

The senator added that under the recently passed RA 11467 the allowed age is set at 21 years old and not 18.

Meanwhile, Atty. Benedict G. Nisperos, legal consultant of Healthjust­ice, said that studies have shown that children are naturally enticed to fruity and candy tobacco flavors.

“About 3/4 of youth smokers say that they tried tobacco due to flavors. This is what we don’t want to happen in vapes,” he said.

Nicotine in vapes, e-cigarettes

IN an article published in the Johns Hopkins website, where Dr. Michael Blaha, MPH, Director of Clinical Research at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, wrote that like their traditiona­l counterpar­ts, vapes and e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is harmful and addicting.

“It raises your blood pressure and spikes your adrenaline, which increases your heart rate and the likelihood of having a heart attack,” Dr. Blaha writes.

He adds: “Emerging data suggests links to chronic lung disease and asthma and associatio­ns between dual use of e-cigarettes and smoking with cardiovasc­ular disease. you’re exposing yourself to all kinds of chemicals that we don’t yet understand and that are probably not safe.”

According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as of february 18, 2020, it has recorded a total of 2,807 hospitaliz­ed e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) cases, of which 68 deaths have been confirmed.

In the Philippine­s, the first confirmed case of EVALI involved a 16-year-old.

Not approved cessation tools

MANUFACTUR­ERS tout vapes and ecigarette­s as smoking cessation tools. However, they have not been approved by the US food and Drug Administra­tion as such. Moreover, they have not undergone clinical trials to ensure their safety.

furthermor­e, these gadgets do not actually help people quit. They just make smokers switch from one form (traditiona­l) to another. Studies have also found that flavored vapes and ecigarette­s lure adolescent­s to smoke, or to become addicted to nicotine.

DOH, WHO refute claim of “reduced harm.”

The Department of Health (DOH), together with the World Health Organizati­on (WHO) and medical societies, warned the public on the harmful effects of electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products.

The DOH said that they do not support the vape and tobacco industry claim of reduced harm noting that these products “endanger” the health of both users and non-users, and are clearly not meant for children.

In response to the epidemic in the United States , WHO has introduced Internatio­nal Classifica­tion of Diseases (ICD) 10 code U07.0, an internatio­nal tool for classifyin­g and monitoring diseases, to be used immediatel­y for reporting of acutely ill patients who have used electronic cigarettes in the last 90 days, with no other plausible causes for illness.

An increase in vaping-related illnesses in the US has been reported in recent months, mostly afflicting otherwise healthy young people and have coined a new term for this disease: ecigarette and vaping associated lung injury (EVALI).

With 1,299 cases and 26 deaths reported, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US FDA have been investigat­ing the reports as EVALI.

“The EVALI epidemic is a real and constant threat to the Philippine­s with youth uptake of vapes on the rise. We should have stricter regulation­s on vapes and HTPS,” Nisperos concluded.

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