DOH, FDA warn public anew on adverse effects of e-cigarettes

By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

July 15, 2019, 3:52 pm

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday warned the public anew against the adverse effects on health and safety associated with the use of electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems or electronic cigarettes.

“The department, together with the Food and Drug Administration, maintains that a series of long-term epidemiological and peer-reviewed studies are required to conclude that e-cigarettes are less harmful than conventional smoking,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a statement.

Duque added there is barely sufficient evidence-based research to prove the effectiveness of e-cigarette as a smoking cessation aid.

“While there is a lack of conclusive data regarding the long-term effects of using e-cigarettes, its health risks cannot be set aside. The precautionary principle recommends that, until conclusive data regarding their safety have been established, regulatory measures should aim at reducing exposures to these products,” he said.

According to the DOH, the number of local e-cigarettes consumers will increase as the global market for these devices expand.

E-cigarettes or vapes are combinations of non-tobacco-containing e-liquids or refills and an electronic delivery device. They produce aerosol, mist, or vapor that users inhale by mimicking the act of smoking.

"In 2015, the Global Adult Tobacco Survey recorded that the overall prevalence of ever users and current users of e-cigarettes in the Philippines was 2.8 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively," the DOH said.

The DOH stressed that the composite contents of and emissions from these devices are not completely without harm as they use chemicals such as nicotine, ultra-fine particles, carcinogens, heavy metals, and volatile organic compounds.

"Five US (United States) medical specialty societies -- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Surgeons -- have unanimously stated that these devices are health hazards. The Philippine Pediatric Society has likewise been vocal about its strongly addictive and potentially cancer-causing effects," the DOH said.

Since these products have a unique appeal to the youth, due to the prevalence of flavored variants and their unique construction, the DOH and FDA strongly appeal to parents, teachers, and health workers to educate children and adolescents about the health risks of e-cigarettes.

"Results generated from peer-reviewed studies show that e-cig juices contain high levels of addictive nicotine, which can result in acute or even fatal poisoning through ingestion and other means. In addition to nicotine addiction, cases of nicotine toxicity in children of epidemic proportion have been documented in other countries with increasing prevalence of e-cigarette use," the DOH said, adding that bystanders can also breathe harmful second-hand aerosols from e-cigarettes. (PNA)