The Philippines’s Department of Health (DOH) is stubbornly refusing to consider the growing body of evidence supporting electronic cigarettes as comprising a less harmful alternative to combustible cigarettes and an effective smoking cessation aid, according to an opinion piece by Mary Ann LL. Reyes published in The Philippine Star.
Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo was said recently to have reiterated the DOH’s warning that the use of e-cigarettes was not a good alternative to cigarette smoking and that, because e-cigarettes contained nicotine, the DOH was concerned that vapers would become addicted to nicotine and then become cigarette smokers.
Reyes said that Domingo’s statement was hardly surprising. The DOH followed the World Health Organization position that the only way to reduce smoking was for smokers to quit or die, and that anything less than an abstinence-only approach was unacceptable. Like the WHO, the DOH was highly skeptical of the potential for new technologies, such as e-cigarettes, to reduce smoking-related harms.
What was worrying, Reyes wrote, was the DOH’s stubborn refusal to consider the growing body of evidence supporting e-cigarettes as a less harmful alternative to conventional cigarettes and an effective smoking cessation aid.
February 27 had seen the publication by Public Health England of its latest evidence update summary on vaping.
One of the updated evidence review’s key findings immediately stood out because it ran completely counter to Domingo’s statement. E-cigarettes were not a gateway to smoking.
The evidence showed that e-cigarette use in the UK remained largely confined to those who already smoked or ex-smokers who had now quit using an e-cigarette, while quitting smoking remained the key motivation among adult vapers. The fear that the number of young people using e-cigarettes regularly would increase sharply was not happening in the UK. While experimentation was increasing, vaping among young people remained low at 1.7 percent and was mainly confined to those who already smoked.