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Consumers ask clarity on e-cigarettes

Nicotine is not the enemy — it is smoke, and tar and the other by-products of combustion.

TDT

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Dominguez / daily tribune file photo

Consumers have asked Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to clarify the position of the Philippines on smoke-free nicotine products such as electronic cigarettes, heat-not-burn tobacco products ahead of a global meeting in November 2020.

Consumer group Vapers Philippines sent a letter to Dominguez as the government prepares its position on ENDS or electronic nicotine delivery systems preparatory to the Ninth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP9) to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) which will be held at The Hague, Netherlands.

“As the government is sending delegates to COP9 to represent the electorate, and as consumers’ rights to use less harmful products to switch from smoking remain under tremendous threat from FCTC’s continuing failure to address scientific evidence, democratic processes and human rights, we respectfully request that you share with us the details of our nation’s position,” The Vapers PH said in the letter.

The group said that while the FCTC has a mandate to pursue harm reduction as a core tobacco control policy, it has singularly failed to acknowledge or implement this over the past 18 years.

It said scientific studies show smoke-free nicotine products are much less harmful alternatives to combustible cigarettes because they do not produce smoke. She said some governments erroneously claim that nicotine is carcinogenic.  “We hope the Department of Finance does not contribute to this falsehood,” she said.

This is because it has been known for decades that tar, and carcinogens found in tobacco smoke, cause the death and disease associated with smoking and not nicotine. Research has proven that nicotine, while mildly addictive in the same way as caffeine, is not a health issue.

The letter stated even WHO accepts this as demonstrated by its position on the use of nicotine patches, gums and sprays and other pharmaceutical ‘smoking cessation’ products which it has announced are safe for long-term use by smokers looking to switch to less harmful forms of nicotine consumption.

“Nicotine is not the enemy — it is smoke, and tar and the other by-products of combustion.  Yet this government continues to permit the sale and use of the obviously most dangerous nicotine product (smoking cigarettes) alongside certain alternative nicotine products while refusing to acknowledge the benefits of allowing smokers to switch to other novel nicotine products that are now known to be both far safer and also more effective in aiding smokers to stop using combustible tobacco,” it said.

Public Health England’s annual reviews of all available evidence have consistently concluded that e-cigarettes are around 95-percent less harmful than smoking.

The Vapers PH asked Dominguez to consider allowing Filipinos to choose non-pharmaceutical, non-combustible interventions that provide users the nicotine they enjoy without the smoke and tar, such as e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn tobacco products and snus which have been chosen and used by millions of consumers worldwide to easily, effectively and permanently switch from smoking combustible tobacco.

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