E-cigarettes not scientifically proven safe: ASEAN alliance

By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

September 9, 2018, 5:57 pm

MANILA -- An alliance promoting tobacco control said the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) is not scientifically proven to be less harmful than smoking regular cigarettes.

“The fact that it is said less harmful proves that it is still harmful, posing dangers on health. It has not been scientifically proven (to be a) healthy alternative to cigarettes,” Ulysses Dorotheo, executive director of Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, said at the launch of the Tobacco Industry Interference Index Philippine Report 2018 on Friday.

SEATCA is a multi-sectoral organization established to support member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in developing and putting in place effective tobacco control policies.

Citing the latest research studies on the effects e-cigarette smoking on health, Dorotheo said e-cigarette smokers may experience the same, if not higher, cardiovascular problems as cigarette smokers.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices, which resemble regular cigarettes. They contain nicotine, water, glycerol, propylene glycol, and optional flavoring which aggressive marketing says are less harmful compared to the contents of regular cigarettes.

In a statement released on Aug. 25, the Department of Health (DOH) said claims about the reduced harm of e-cigarettes are unsubstantiated and remain unproven and latest reports even link them to chemicals that may cause diseases.

“The lack of conclusive data regarding the long-term effects of using e-cigarettes, its health risks, cannot be ignored. The precautionary principle recommends that, until conclusive data regarding their safety have been established, regulatory measures should aim at reducing exposure to these products,” the DOH said.

In 2014, the DOH issued Administrative Order No. 2014-008 on the regulation of e-cigarettes, which are classified as a combination of drugs and medical devices, and not as tobacco products or conventional cigarettes.

It even provided pertinent guidelines in the licensing of e-cigarette establishments and registration of their products under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

To date, no company or product has applied for a License to Operate or a Certificate of Product registration with the FDA.

Stressing on the health risks caused by cigarettes and e-cigarettes, Dorotheo recommended the regulation or banning of advertisements promoting them.

“If I may add, the President is strong about his anti-drugs campaign, there are actually studies which show that people who smoke have a chance to use illegal drugs. The risk is as high as 30 percent. At least a million of the three million drug users could have been prevented if they have not smoked,“ he said. (PNA)