By Ellson Quismorio
Electric cigarettes or e-cigarettes aren’t devices designed to help people quit smoking as far as the Philippine E-Cigarette Industry Association (PECIA) is concerned.
PECIA President Joey Dulay made this clarification in a letter sent to the Manila Bulletin over the weekend after a story ran last week in the daily insinuating that the group viewed e-cigarettes as “smoking-cessation devices.”
“PECIA and our 250 members do not claim e-cigarettes are smoking-cessation devices. We mandate our members to be responsible entrepreneurs by observing ethical business practices and ensuring the proper use of e-cigarettes as a lifestyle choice among adults looking for a less-harmful alternative to conventional cigarettes,” Dulay said in his letter.
In a joint hearing by the House Committees on Trade and Industry and Health last December 2, Dulay said that proper regulation of e-cigarettes or vape devices–also known as Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS)–would be better for them than the Palace-ordered ban on the public use and importation of such devices.
It was during the same hearing where Dulay bared his motivation for setting up a vape shop, which he admitted began with a desire to quit traditional smoking. It’s because he attributed his father’s death at age 48 to smoking.
“Though I was no stranger to the harms of tobacco cigarettes, ironically, I became a smoker myself. Conflicted, I sought ways to quit and learned about e-cigarettes,” he said.
“I switched to vaping, and got me back on track to living a better life. Inspired by the personal change in my life, I put up a vape shop as a way to help others. It has become my sole source of income now,” added Dulay.
There are at least 15 pending House measures asking for the regulation of ENDS.
It can be recalled that President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the ban on e-cigarettes and vape products last November 20, citing health concerns.
However, there is also speculation that the alleged abuse of liquid marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) through vape led to Duterte’s sudden prohibition. MB published a series of exclusive articles on alleged liquid marijuana-laced vaping last week.
For tobacco control advocate Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, branding e-cigarettes as either cessation or alternative devices to smoking doesn’t really matter, since “there is already evidence of harm [with e-cigarettes].”
“There are over 2,000 cases of lung injuries [in the US]…soon it is very possible that we will also face similar cases of lung injuries in the Philippines,” he told the same House joint panel hearing.
Dorotheo said marketing e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking is basically presenting them as a “substitute for cigarettes,” which could lead users to “continue being addicted to nicotine with the risks that we still do not fully comprehend.”
“We fully support the motion of our President to prohibit these products because we are just at the beginning of the e-cigarette epidemic in our country. We should truly to nip this problem before it becomes larger…We believe that we are fighting for the health of all people, including smokers,” added the health expert.
He further batted for the non-promotion pr advertising of e-cigarettes “so that the youth don’t get more attracted to these devices and products.”
“That way, we reduce the risk of nicotine addiction among our young.”