Vapers in the country are appealing to legislators to regulate electronic cigarettes differently from conventional cigarettes, given the emerging evidence showing that e-cigarettes or “vapes” are a less harmful alternative to tobacco and a viable quit-smoking tool.Vapers Phils. recommended the non-inclusion of e-cigarettes in the Tobacco Regulation Act (RA 9211), i.e., separate and distinct regulatory framework for e-cigarettes in terms of advertising and promotions, sale and distribution and use.Mark Czerwin Erana Public Relations Officer of the Vapers said, “we underscore our position that vaping and smoking should not be lumped together, especially in use regulation.”“Appropriate regulation of e-cigarettes can help millions of Filipino smokers quit and prevent them from developing serious sickness and dying prematurely,” said Joey Dulay, president of the Philippine E-cigarette Industry Association (PECIA). PECIA and The Vapers Phils. are among the stakeholders invited to attend the public hearing of the Committee on Trade and Industry of the House of Representatives last March 13, 2018. The meeting, chaired by Rep. Fernejel G. Biron, tackled several pending bills seeking to regulate e-cigarettes.House Bill (HB) 532 authored by Rep. Rodel Batocabe seeks to regulate the packaging, use, sale, distribution, and advertisements of electronic smoking devices, amending for the purpose Republic Act 9211, otherwise known as the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003. Dulay pointed out that HB 532 seeks to include e-cigarettes in the Tobacco Regulation Act. This effectively regulates e-cigarettes in the same way as regular cigarettes and will result in untoward effects, he explained. It will give the public the wrong impression that e-cigarettes are just as harmful as regular cigarettes. “Putting the same graphic health warnings will confuse the public and discourage smokers from switching to these less harmful alternative,” Dulay said. Then, e-cigarette users will be forced to occupy smoking areas used by cigarette smokers thereby exposing them to the poisonous chemicals in cigarette smoke that they are trying to avoid in the first place.Dulay called on legislators to consider the British regulatory model. Last year, about two million people in England used e-cigarettes and completely stopped smoking while nearly half a million more were using e-cigarettes as an aid to stop smoking. In its Tobacco Control Plan 2017-2022, the British government clearly stated its intention to support consumers in stopping smoking and adopting the use of less harmful nicotine products, particularly e-cigarettes.At the committee meeting, PECIA and The Vapers Phils. also submitted the latest Evidence Review of E-Cigarettes commissioned by Public Health England (PHE), which was released on March 2, 2018. The main findings of the 2018 PHE review include:• Vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking and switching completely from smoking to vaping conveys substantial health benefits.•E-cigarettes could be contributing to at least 20,000 successful new quits per year and possibly many more.• Many thousands of smokers incorrectly believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking; around 40 percent of smokers have not even tried an e-cigarette• Less than 10 percent of adults understand that most of the harms to health from smoking are not caused by nicotine.• The evidence does not support the concern that e-cigarettes are a route into smoking among young people.
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