Senator Win Gatchalian will file a bill regulating the sale of e-cigarettes, vapes and other electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems in the Philippines as the country reported its first electronic cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI) case.
“We are already preparing a bill, which we will file soon, to regulate the packaging, advertisement, sale, and distribution of e-cigarettes in the country, including Juul (a cartridge-based e-cigarette),” the senator said.
Gatchalian made the call as he expressed concern that e-cigarettes in the country continues to be marketed as a safer product that can wean smokers off their nicotine addiction even if such claims are unproven.
The lawmaker stressed that the first reported EVALI case in the Philippines is more than enough reason to be concerned with the welfare of many Filipinos and implement a stricter regulation on the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes in the country.
Gatchalian lamented that the lack of stricter regulation on the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes makes it easily available and appealing to children and adolescents, like the 16-year-old girl from Central Visayas.
“Sabi nga nila prevention is better than cure. Ngayon nga na nagtala na ang Department of Health ng isang kaso ng EVALI dito sa Pilipinas, nararapat lang na iregulate ang paggamit ng e-cigarettes at vapes dito sa Pilipinas para hindi na dumami pa ang kaso ng EVALI dito sa bansa,” Gatchalian said.
Data from the Euromonitor show that as of 2018, the smoking population of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products in the Philippines grew to 226,700. The same data show that the Philippines has been ranked 3rd among the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) members in terms of smoking population, with Malaysia being the highest in the region.
Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed at least 42 deaths in 24 states due to EVALI.
In the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) reported that a 16-year-old girl from the Central Visayas was the first patient in the country who met the criteria for EVALI. The criteria used by the DOH was based on the guidelines set by the US Centers for Disease Control.
“Also, the manufacturers, distributors and sellers of these products are claiming that e-cigarettes are safer or healthier alternatives to traditional cigarettes so we need a regulatory framework to check the safety claims of the e-cigarettes that are being sold in the market. This is necessary to assure the public of the effects to their health of the chemicals or substances they ingest in their bodies,” Gatchalian said.
“Let’s not wait for another patient to be confined, or even worse die, as a result of EVALI. It’s time to regulate these smoking devices and save the lives of many Filipinos, particularly the youth,” he said.