The House Joint Committee on Health, Trade, and Industry pass House Resolution 973 which urges the DOH to implement harm reduction education as part of the adopted Framework Convention on Tobacco Control agreement.
The Philippines House Joint Committee on Health, Trade, and Industry has urged the Department of Health to support harm reduction products, especially e-cigarettes. In their House Resolution 973, the committee says they believe the Philippine government should offer these options as part of the National Tobacco Control Strategy. The author of HR 973, Rep. Anthony Bravo, gave a speech during the hearing about its adoption. Representative Bravo, who is of the Coop-Natcco Party, points out that the Philippine government signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). A move, he says, precludes them from acknowledging and supporting the legitimacy and harm reduction of e-cigarettes.
Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
The Philippines were one of the nations to sign the 2003 WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. It was the first international treaty about tobacco control negotiated by the WHO. Since its implementation in February of 2005, it has become one of the most popular treaties in UN history. The FCTC was designed to fight the global smoking crisis by setting the standard for public health policy on smoking cessation. Anthony Bravo was quick to point out that the Philippines had signed this treaty, which included provisions about supporting “harm reduction strategies”. The treaty asserts that these products help work toward their goal of reducing or eliminating the effect of tobacco products on society.
Rep. Bravo compared the harm reduction strategies used to increase sexual health education awareness, to the reputation issues facing vaping. Of course it would be ideal to eliminate the problem from ever happening, but since we can’t cover every contingency we have to settle for educating individuals about how to make good choices given what science has to tell us. Harm reduction awareness has worked in these areas to varying degrees of success, but the impact could be much greater if these policies are adopted by more governments. Rep. Anthony Bravo cited renowned tobacco control expert, Dr. Konstantinos E. Farsalinos and his recent trip to the Philippines.
Dr. Farsalinos’ Input
During a trip to the Philippine capital of Manila earlier this year, Dr. Farsalinos spoke about e-cigarettes and their possible applications during a few media events. He spent most of his time urging the government to work on a framework that would reasonably and legitimately regulate and implement vaping for smoking cessation purposes. He warns that this plan “must be different from the regulation of tobacco cigarettes; otherwise, people may be deceived into thinking that e-cigarettes are the same as tobacco cigarettes”. According to Dr. Farsalinos all of the proper ways to support vaping, such as ensuring the quality of products, promoting use in smokers only, and keeping prices competitive, are all done most effectively by creating a science backed framework. Finally he acknowledges the tragic truth of combustible cigarettes. That it’s the nicotine smokers come for, but it’s the tar that they die for. All of the most detrimental health effects of smoking are caused by the chemicals released during the burning process. Chemicals that are not found in e-liquid vapor.
If the Philippine Department of Health heeds the warnings of Rep. Bravo and the rest of the House Joint Committee on Health, Trade and Industry, another government body will have committed to a policy of education as opposed to false equating. Getting more countries on board with policies like those proposed in the Philippines, are key to changing the overall reputation and narrative surrounding e-cigarettes. The peer reviewed science is coming in all the time, and it’s slowly becoming clearer what the real risks of vaping are. A now famous 2015 study by Public Health England found that e-cigarettes were at least 95% safer than traditional cigarettes. So if figures like that hold up, it would become glaringly obvious that we must make sure smokers fully understand the differences between vaping and smoking.
Do you think it’s important for places like the Philippines to support vaping? Is it more important for places like America or the UK to do it? Do you think that the Philippines plan will prove successful? Let us know what you think in the comments.