By Chito Chavez
Three lawmakers stressed the government and civil society stakeholders should think out of the box and promote and adopt a more progressive approach in preventing and controlling noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).
Stressing the people’s right for ample health care, Rep. Anthony Bravo (Coop-NATTCO Party-list) explained that the demand for NCD-contributing products remains high despite heavy taxation and stricter government regulation because of the absence of affordable alternatives with comparable quality.
In a forum in Quezon City, Bravo wants the private sector to devote its huge resources to find less harmful alternatives, and encouraging such efforts.
By way of example, the Philippine Congress has followed the United Kingdom in incorporating alternative nicotine-based products in the framework of the national tobacco control policy,” Bravo said.
The House of Representatives recently unanimously adopted House Resolution No. 1885, co-authored by Bravo and Rep. Jose Tejada (North Cotabato, 3rd District), which urges the Department of Health (DOH) to promote harm-reduction measures as part of its National Tobacco Control Strategy, particularly the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or “vapes”) as a less harmful alternative for smokers.
“Quitting smoking is best. But for those who can’t quit, viable alternatives should be made available,” Bravo noted.
The resolution cited public health experts’ position that smokers who switch to combustion-free products such as e-cigarettes can substantially reduce the prevalence of smoking and the risk of developing smoking-related diseases and eventually overall population harm.
It also stated that the “Philippines can benefit from the learning from the experience of and studies in the UK which is at the forefront of smoking harm-reduction exercises.”
The solons also issued their call during the interactive civil society hearing on the prevention and control of NCDs held recently at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
According to the WHO, NCDs kill 41-million people each year, equivalent to 71 percent of all deaths globally.
Each year, 15-million people die from a NCD between the ages of 30 and 69 years; over 85 percent of these “premature” deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.