Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go expressed his full support to President Rodrigo Duterte as the latter announced Tuesday night his decision to ban the use and importation of e-cigarettes into the country.
The senator, who initially spoke about recommending to the President the need to regulate e-cigarettes or vape, told reporters in an interview after his fire visit in Tondo, Manila City that the President has already made a decision and will release an executive order soon.
“Noong nakaraang linggo, nagbigay ako ng aking stand, opinion, na dapat i-regulate ‘yung vape dahil para sa akin, importante po ang kalusugan. Sa ngayon, may desisyon na po ang ating Pangulo at maglalabas siya ng executive order,” Go said.
The President’s decision came after the Department of Health (DOH) announced that there is a probable case of the country’s first reported E-Cigarette or Vaping Product Use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) after a teenager in Central Visayas region was admitted in an intensive care unit after complaining of difficulty in breathing.
The 16-year-old teenager who has been vaping for six months, and concurrently also smoked cigarettes, was admitted on October 21 with findings of “sudden-onset severe shortness of breath, required oxygen supplementation and ICU admission.”
The DOH has been pushing for a total ban on e-cigarettes, stating that there is still no evidence to support claims that the devices do not cause harmful effects on human health nor are they a better alternative to conventional nicotine products, such as tobacco cigarettes.
According to Go, he supports the President’s decision to ban the use and importation of e-cigarettes as the health of Filipinos should always be a top consideration in crafting policies regarding those products.
“Ako, suportado ko po ito. Para sa akin, importante ang kalusugan ng bawat Pilipino. As chairman of Committee on Health sa Senado, uunahin ko po ang kapakanan ng bawat Pilipino, ang kalusugan nila, lalong-lalo na po ang mga naninigarilyo at mga gumagamit ng e-cigarette,” the senator said.
Citing data from the US Center for Disease Control, Senator Go said that e-cigarette users are 56% more likely to suffer from a heart attack and 30% more likely to suffer from stroke than non-users. E-cigarette products contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance, and other chemicals that are potentially toxic and carcinogenic. According to DOH, based on the 2015 Global Tobacco Survey, there is an estimated 360,000 young Filipinos and another 180,000 adult ones who have ever tried e-cigarettes .
Go stressed the need for the public to be more cautious in using these products because of the limited knowledge available on its potential adverse effects.
The senator also emphasized that between profit and health, the health safety and security of Filipinos remain his top priority.
“Alam niyo, isipin na lang po natin ang kalusugan ng ating madadamay,” Go shared.
“Profit ng negosyante o kalusugan ng Pilipino, pipiliin ko po ang health ng Pilipino. Kalusugan ng bawat Pilipino at magiging ligtas ang kanilang buhay at hindi madadamay (ang) katabi ng usok na ayaw naman nilang langhapin,” Go added.
Meanwhile, during the senator’s visit to the fire victims in Tondo, residents from Zamora Street and Pavia Street who were recently victimized by a fire incident that happened on November 17, were given immediate aid by Go. The affected residents are temporarily staying at an evacuation site in Brgy. 57 barangay hall.
Go distributed relief and financial assistance to 63 families affected by the fire incident. He also promised to replace the uniforms and school supplies of the students.
“May dala po akong pagkain, groceries at cash assistance sa inyo, sa bawat pamilya, para pansamantala kayong maitawid ngayon. Ako na rin ang bahala sa mga uniporme at school supplies ng mga estudyante para makabalik kayo kaagad sa pag-aaral,” Go said.
The senator also assured fire victims that he is always ready to help those who are in need of medical attention. He advised them to go to the nearest Malasakit Center or approach his staff in order to request for medical assistance.
“Para po sa mga kailangan magpagamot, magpa-opera, o magpatingin sa espesyalista, lapitan niyo lang po ako. Handa po akong tumulong sa inyo,” he said stressing that on top of his priorities is to provide every Filipino better access to quality healthcare.
Representatives from different government agencies also joined Go at the evacuation site. The Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the National Housing Authority (NHA) assessed the situation of the fire victims and provided more help for them, such as financial, medical and housing assistance.
“Kasama ko po ngayon ang mga tauhan ng PCUP, PCSO, DSWD, DTI at NHA para makapag-abot din ng tulong sa inyo. Nandito ang NHA para mabigyan kayo housing assistance, PCUP, PCSO at DSWD para tumulong sa inyo. DTI naman para makapagbigay sa inyo ng hanapbuhay,” Go said.
“Ang gusto ko lamang ay makatulong sa mga nasunugan. Wala na akong ibang hihilingin pa dahil binigay na ng Diyos sa akin ang lahat. Ginawa na niya akong senador at ibinabahagi ko lamang ang lahat ng biyaya na ibinigay niya lalong lalo na sa mga maysakit, mahirap at mga naapektuhan ng aksidente o kalamidad tulad ng sunog,” Go added. (senate.gov.ph)