Key countries fighting anti-vape forces – admirable

It’s incredibly admirable that three key Asia Pacific countries are turning their backs on philanthropic colonialism which has seen too many smokers unnecessarily die over the past decade, says Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA).

Her comments come as the Philippines awaits presidential approval to regulate vaping while Malaysia and Thailand look to lift their failed vaping bans.

“When these three nations legalise vaping, they will be among at least 70 countries worldwide that have adopted regulatory frameworks on safer nicotine products. All have registered a dramatic decline in smoking, so the message is clear: Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) is here to stay,” says Ms Loucas.

Alarmingly, when it comes to vaping an undue influence of private wealth over public policy remains strong. Many Asia Pacific countries, she says, are pressured by an overt anti-vape agenda sponsored by foreign think tanks such as those funded by the foundation of American billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

“The World Health Organization all the way down to non-governmental organisations are unduly influenced by the money that can be had by implementing strategies and policies crafted to benefit a select few.”

Like wolves in lambs’ clothing, Ms Loucas says the policies and people who promote the anti-vape agenda appear to be altruistic and charitable to the world at large and are therefore accepted without question. The dark side, however, is that these organisations are predatory and patronising, and the policies they are pushing are inhumane.

“Smoking rates have declined as the use of safer nicotine products has increased – that’s the truth!

“Safer nicotine products do work to reduce harm from tobacco. However, because they are not developed by corporations who can profit from their manufacture or sale, they must be shut down as they are a threat. They’re also a major threat to government revenue – with tobacco excise tax sadly wanted in this post-COVID world,” she says.

CAPHRA says there is an ongoing refusal to accept the science and evidence supporting vaping, despite it being presented by leading scientists, research institutions and public health experts across the world.

“It’s deplorable that developing countries with limited resources, scientific experts and public health budgets have the funding carrot dangled in front of them plus a scripted tobacco control policy. Bullying them into implementing a failed ‘quit or die’ strategy rather than a proven THR approach shows no deference for the local context or situation.”

Also deplorable, she says, is the well-resourced demonization of those publicly advocating for better access to safer nicotine products over deadly cigarettes.

“Nicotine is not the enemy, nor are the adult consumers of nicotine. Vaping has literally saved their lives. Millions of happier and healthier people are the real-world evidence”, says Ms Loucas.

Keen for more countries to adopt progressive regulations around vaping, THR advocates are coming together to help each other with guidance and support. Dubbed The Advocates Voice ‘Shorts’ Series, the five sessions will be livestreamed fortnightly via the CAPHRA and sCOPe YouTube channels at 12:00pm NZT. To view the first one – The Art of Self Care – on 26 March, visit https://youtu.be/3-2wWX_g65k

A global collaboration of THR consumer groups, sCOPe, has launched a comprehensive library of online panel discussions and presentations. In November 2021, sCOPe broadcast around the clock during COP9 – the 9th Conference of Parties for the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). To access sCOPe’s online library visit, https://bit.ly/319zzkx

Boasting over 14,000 testimonials, CAPHRA is calling on those who’ve quit cigarettes through smoke-free nicotine alternatives to tell their story onwww.righttovape.org

For a free digital media repository on tobacco harm reduction in Asia Pacific – including media releases, images and graphics – please visithttps://apthrmedia.org

Philippine President must urgently sign pro-vaping act

The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA) has written to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte asking him to urgently sign the Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Act into law.

Both the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives have ratified the harmonized version of the act which will regulate the use, manufacture, importation, sale, distribution and promotion of vaping and heated tobacco products. It now awaits the President’s signature or veto.

“The weight of the scientific evidence shows that potentially thousands of Filipino lives can be saved by making this act the law of the land,” wrote CAPHRA, backed by its expert advisory group and member organizations throughout the Asia Pacific region.

CAPHRA told the President when enacted the legislation will provide 16 million Filipino smokers with the world’s most effective smoking cessation tool, saving the lives and enhancing the health of millions of Filipino smokers and their families, friends, and co-workers.

“Hundreds of peer-reviewed international scientific studies have found innovative smoke-free products such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products to be far less harmful than combustible tobacco and offer the best options to make smokers switch or quit. The act will ensure the regulation of these products, so that they meet government standards to protect consumers and will contribute revenue, via taxation,” wrote Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of CAPHRA.

The letter said signing the act into law and giving Filipino smokers the option of choosing less harmful alternative nicotine products will create an enduring presidential legacy. It will prove to the world that Mr Duterte is a leader who put the health and well-being of his people, based on science, above the special interests of foreigners.

The Asia Pacific advocacy group explained that the use of non-combustible nicotine products is at the core of Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) – a public health strategy designed to address the smoking problem by making available less harmful alternatives that do not produce smoke – the main source of toxic chemicals that cause cancer and chronic pulmonary heart diseases.

With Public Health England concluding that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than combustible cigarettes, “we believe that the use of less harmful alternatives to traditional cigarettes will save about 100,000 Filipinos who die every year from smoking-related diseases,” CAPHRA wrote.

The letter noted that once signed into law, the Philippines will join 67 countries around the world that have regulatory frameworks on vaping. Further, those countries that have legalized vaping and the use of other smoke-free products such as heated tobacco have since registered a dramatic decline in smoking prevalence.

Enclosing an extensive bibliography of scientific information, CAPHRA concluded by respectfully asking the President to urgently sign the Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Act into law.

Last year, CAPHRA member organization Vapers PH commissioned ACORN Marketing & Research Consultants to conduct ‘A Survey of Attitudes Among Adult Tobacco & Nicotine Users in the Philippines’. A staggering 94% of respondents agreed that the Philippine Government should enact policies to encourage adult smokers to switch to less harmful alternatives to cigarettes.

A global collaboration of THR consumer groups, sCOPe has launched a comprehensive library of online panel discussions and presentations. In November 2021, sCOPe broadcast around the clock during COP9 – the 9th Conference of Parties for the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). To access sCOPe’s online library visit https://bit.ly/319zzkx

Boasting over 14,000 testimonials, CAPHRA is calling on those who’ve quit cigarettes through smoke-free nicotine alternatives to tell their story onwww.righttovape.org

For a free digital media repository on tobacco harm reduction in Asia Pacific – including media releases, images and graphics – please visithttps://apthrmedia.org

Senate OKs hotly debated vape bill

After intense debate, a proposed law seeking to regulate the sale and distribution of electronic cigarettes or vaping products was approved by the Senate on third and final reading on Thursday.
The vote was 19-2, with 2 abstentions, for Senate Bill No. 2239, which sets restrictions to the use and sale of vaporized nicotine products (VNP), including an age limit for its users.
But the approved version of the bill actually lowers the minimum age of allowed users from 21 years old to 18, and takes vape products away from the regulatory powers of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and into the ambit of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
The bill’s staunchest critic, Sen. Pia Cayetano, took the floor after the vote to deliver a scathing speech on its passage.
 
“This Senate has allowed a provision in this bill that will now turn over that duty [of regulation] to the DTI. What business does the DTI have to regulate health? To ensure that the flavors and scents of those products that we inhale now [will be inhaled] by anyone that is 18 years and 1 day old?” she said.
Four percent of Filipinos use vape products, according to a Pulse Asia survey that was conducted on Sept. 6-11 among 1,200 respondents nationwide to gain insight on vaping and e-cigarette habits in the country. Its results were released in November.

Seventy-seven percent of Filipinos believe that vape products are a serious health hazard, 74 percent support a 100-percent “vapes-free policy” in public places, and 70 percent support a policy restricting access to vapes and e-cigarettes to those at least 21 years old.

‘Sin’ products

In her speech, Cayetano noted how, in the 2019 deliberations on the then proposed amendments to the “sin tax” bills, heated tobacco products (HTPs) and VNPs were regarded as “sin” products that Congress decided to regulate through prohibitive tax impositions.
She said that back then, the Senate intended to limit users to those at least 21 years old and to limit the flavors to plain tobacco and plain menthol, and that in discussions on sin tax laws, Congress had always given the power of regulation to the FDA.
“Here today, we witness history. SB 2239 reverses the protective measures that we as a Congress, as a Senate, put in. Why would we reduce it, Your Honors?” she said.
Cayetano said the FDA had been regulating other products that “have the potential to do much good,” such as insect repellants, skin lotions, perfumes, sun blocks, and essential oils.
She pointed out that the US FDA had banned some 55,000 vape flavors because they “did not meet the scrutiny of public health.”
“It hurts me deeply, that I have not been able to convince my colleagues, [that] simply … allowing the FDA to do its job is not good enough for this Senate. It hurts me that I am unable to communicate that well, because what I hear, we want to give this product a chance to save lives,” she said.

‘Critical yes’

Cayetano also expressed regret that her colleagues had rejected her proposed amendments to the bill, including raising the age limit for allowable vape use to at least 21.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon likewise delivered a speech to clarify that his vote on the measure was a “critical yes,” in order to provide smokers a chance to quit and have an alternative in e-cigarettes and vape products.
“My vote comes with a caveat that if and when it is conclusively and concretely shown that vaping is as harmful as cigarette smoking, and that [vape products] have instead ensnared our youth into addiction, I would come back to the Senate as a retiree to ask and beg you, my esteemed colleagues, for a repeal of this measure,” he said.
Drilon said his vote should not be taken to mean he had changed his antismoking stance.
“I do not need a surgeon general’s warning to say that smoking is harmful to one’s health. Smoking kills, period,” he said.
Drilon also noted how in the last two decades, the government had used “compulsion and coercion as [its] main weapons against cigarette smoking.”
“Perhaps it is time to use persuasion,” he said.
Sen. Joel Villanueva said that while he had voted in favor of the bill, it was “with serious reservations” that he vowed to explain at length in writing.

Executive order

In February 2020, President Duterte signed Executive Order No. 106 ordering a ban on the manufacture, distribution, marketing and sale of unregistered vaping products and their use in public places.
House Bill No. 9007, or the proposed “Non-Combustible Nicotine Delivery Systems Regulation Act,” which seeks to regulate the manufacture, sale, and use of less harmful alternatives to cigarettes such as vapes and HTPs, was approved by the House of Representatives in May.
The bill prohibits, among others, the sale to minors of vape products and HTPs; the use of these products in all enclosed public places (except in designated areas), schools, hospitals, government offices and facilities intended for minors; and the sale or distribution of these products within 100 meters from the perimeter of a school, playground, or other facility frequented by minors. —With a report from Inquirer Research
Sources: Inquirer Archives, congress.gov.ph, Pulse Asia

Doctors support passing of vape bill

Two well-respected Filipino medical luminaries applauded the Senate for ensuring that minors are protected in the so called vape bill or Vaporized Nicotine Product (VNP) bill now being discussed in the chamber.
Both doctors noted that Senate Bill 2239, while recognizing e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs) are less harmful than cigarettes, dedicated a third its provisions to ensure that minors will not have access to these non-combustible alternatives and that only 18 years old and above are allowed to purchase and use them, the same age restriction imposed on cigarettes.

Cardiologist Rafael Castillo who together with other medical professionals conducted the first local scientific study that concluded HTPs contain less harmful chemicals than cigarettes said that, “Senate Bill No. 2239 and House Bill No. 9007, which aim to regulate nicotine products, should provide the needed controls, but they should not be more stringent than what is currently imposed on conventional cigarette products, or else the enacted laws could be self-defeating and may make inaccessible the pragmatic middle ground.” Dr. Castillo is a Fellow of the Philippine College of Physicians, Philippine College of Cardiology and European Society of Cardiology.
Dr. Lorenzo Mata, President of the advocacy group Quit For Good and an occupational medicine specialist for over 35 years, said his group envisions a regulatory framework that incorporates harm reduction measures. He said regulations for non-combustible alternatives should be “less restrictive than combustible cigarette and supportive of reasonable accessibility, while curbing unintended use of non-smokers and minors.”
Meanwhile consumers and industry groups highlighted the overwhelming support that the vape bill is receiving from the estimated 1 million vapers nationwide asserting their rights in the campaign “We vape, we vote.”.

Joey Dulay, president of the Philippine E-cigarette Industry Association (PECIA) said, “We’re seeing massive grassroots support for SB 2239 from vape shop owners and vapers both online and offline. Posters and stickers expressing support for the bill can be seen everywhere up to the Visayas region. As the deliberations in the senate continues, we are seeing more organic posts from people using the #yestovapebill on social media.”

Anton Israel, president of Nicotine Consumers Union of the Philippines (NCUP), said, “Just check the Senate live streaming on the vape bill and the 90 percent of numerous comments and reactions are in support of the bill. The stakeholders’ clamor for a balanced regulations on e-cigarettes and HTPs reflects the people’s desire to have access to less harmful alternatives to smoking. There are around 17 million smokers in the Philippines, these are people whose lives will benefit once we have a risk proportionate regulation in place.”
Dr. Mata said laws should be “carefully calibrated to ensure that adult smokers are made aware of the less harmful alternatives available and given the option to shift to these alternatives while minors and non-smokers are protected. Over-regulating these better alternatives to the point of impossibility of compliance would only perpetuate smoking.”

Dr. Castillo noted that they support the use of HTPs in recalcitrant smokers and share the concern about its potential for abuse, especially by our youth.
“This is where effective legislation can provide the necessary control measures. Not only the youth should be protected but even older nonsmoking adults, especially the women, who could be lured into the vice,” he said.
Dr. Castillo noted that the current decline in the number of smokers represents a mere 2.5-percent in the “past two years or 1,0250,000 less smokers per year. This may be a positive direction, but the number of smokers is not going down fast enough. We know there’s no quick fix to it, but a pragmatic and aggressive approach to the problem that shows some promise in mitigating the outcomes should be tried. The use of Alternative Tobacco Products and HTPs may be one such approach.”
He emphasized that, “permanent smoking cessation is still our main goal but as a mitigating measure, we allow our recalcitrant smoker patients to shift to HTPs as a relatively less harmful middle ground.”
“However, there’s a conscious effort to constantly remind them to give up smoking eventually,” he said.

Vapers praise Filipino Secretary for COP9 bravery

Worldwide praise from Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) advocates and vapers continues for Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary, Teodoro Locsin Jr.

Secretary Locsin told online delegates at COP9 – a key international tobacco control conference hosted by the World Health Organization – they must consider ‘evolving and latest scientific information’ if the global smoking problem is to be solved.

“We salute his bravery at COP9 for promoting the Philippines’ balanced and evidence-based approach to safer nicotine products. Opponents and officials have since done their best to discredit Secretary Locsin and disrespect our country’s democracy and sovereignty, but they have failed badly,” says Peter Dator, president of consumer group Vapers PH and CAPHRA member.

Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of CAPHRA (Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates), says it’s pleasing to see top Filipino politicians rally around Secretary Locsin, with the global vaping community also voicing its strong support via social media.

“In a world where smoking causes eight million deaths every year, Secretary Locsin has done everyone a huge favour. Telling COP9 about the success of ‘far less harmful novel tobacco products’ and the Philippine Government’s political support for them was music to the ears of the millions who’ve successful quit deadly cigarettes, via vaping,” she says.

During COP9 – the 9th Conference of Parties for the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) – Ms Loucas organised a global livestream, featuring world-leading THR experts and consumer advocates.

Dubbed sCOPe, the five-day YouTube simulcast attracted a significant audience globally, adding to the increasing pressure on the WHO to embrace safer nicotine products, rather than pushing to ban them.

“How can we trust the WHO and the FCTC when they are afraid of science? In this age of fake news and alternative facts, it is important for governments to take a stand for the facts and know how to sift through the propaganda. This is what Secretary Locsin did at COP9, and I join the Philippine Cabinet and Congress in commending his actions,” says Mr Dator.

To view Mr Dator’s message to COP9 delegates visit: https://youtu.be/g0pYPmRXxM8

Secretary Locsin’s speech at COP9 and other key moments will be analysed during a post-sCOPe wrap-up and discussion. sCOPe’s COP9 awards will also announced. It will be broadcast at https://bit.ly/30v701b from 6.00pm (Hong Kong Time) or 10.00am (GMT) on Wednesday, 17 November.

Now live and boasting over 14,000 testimonials, CAPHRA is calling on those who’ve quit cigarettes through smoke-free nicotine alternatives to tell their story on www.righttovape.org

For a free digital media repository on tobacco harm reduction in Asia Pacific – including media releases, images and graphics – please visithttps://apthrmedia.org

sCOPe livestream review

Former health execs join clamor to junk vape bill

Stressing that it is a huge step backward in protecting the health of Filipinos, health experts, youth groups, and other non-government organizations (NGOs) have called on the Senate to listen to the people and to junk the vape bill now.
Vapes and e-cigarettes are common names for electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems (ENDS/ENNDS) and heated tobacco products (HTPs), which are covered by the Vape Bill or the proposed Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Act (SBN 2239), authored by Sen. Ralph Recto.

The latest Pulse Asia survey showed that 62 percent of adult Filipinos will support a proposed bill that will ban the availability and accessibility of e-cigarette or vape flavors that appeal to children and youth.
Conducted from September 6 to 11, 2021, the nationwide survey, which was based on face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adult Filipinos or those aged 18 and above, also showed, 96 percent do not use e-cigarettes or vaping devices. The survey used a ± 3 percent error margin.

Survey results

In the National Capital Region (NCR), 95 percent (using a ± 6 percent error margin and 300 respondents) do not use e-cigarettes and vapes, 98 percent in Balance Luzon, 88 percent in Visayas, and 98 percent in Mindanao. There are 0.4 percent who are former daily users, 1 percent occasional users (less that daily), 5 percent used or tried it sometime while 89 percent never tried e-cigarettes or vaping devices.
Sixty-eight percent in the NCR will support a proposed bill that will ban the availability and accessibility of e-cigarette or vape flavors that appeal to children and the youth like cotton candy and fruit flavors, 61 percent in Balance Luzon, 43 percent in Visayas, and 75 percent in Mindanao.

Four percent of the 1,200 respondents are current e-cigarette or vaping device users, 3 percent daily users, 1 percent occasional (formerly daily), and 1 percent occasional (never daily).
Of those (or four percent) who were surveyed who used e-cigarettes or vaping devices, 66 percent said they would support a proposed bill that will ban e-cigarette or flavored vapes, 54 percent truly support, 12 percent somewhat support, 15 percent cannot say if supporting or not, 19 percent will not support, 16 percent somewhat support, and three percent will truly not support.

Support for bill

Meanwhile, of those (96 percent) who do not use e-cigarettes or vaping devices, 62 percent said that they will support such a bill, 46 percent will truly support, 15 percent will somewhat support, 17 percent undecided, 20 percent will not support, 8 percent somewhat not support, and 12 percent will truly not support.
On policy restrictions in the accessibility to e-cigarettes or vapes at 21 years old and above, it got 70 percent support, 51 percent truly support, 19 percent somewhat support, 14 percent undecided, 15 percent not supporting, 7 percent somewhat not to support, and 8 percent will not truly support.

The survey also showed that 77 percent are aware of the serious health hazards of e-cigarettes or vapes, 15 percent are aware of minor hazards, 2 percent believe that there are no health hazards at all, while 6 percent don’t know/refused.
Seventy-four percent have expressed support of a 100 percent e-cigarette or vape-free policy in public places.

Calls to junk the Vape Bill

Medical groups, youth groups and NGOs like HealthJustice Philippines are strongly against the lowering of the age limit for the sale of smoking devices from 21 years old to 18 years old and to allow vaping in public places, schools, and other business establishments.
They are also against the easing of restrictions on the use of flavorings on vapes as well as the deregulation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Likewise, seven former health secretaries have the joined calls for the Senate to junk the Vape Bill.

“The Vape Bill is a huge step backward in protecting Filipinos’ health. It is a danger, especially in a pandemic,” according to former health secretaries Dr. Alfredo Bengzon, Dr. Esperanza Cabral, Dr. Manuel Dayrit, Dr. Enrique Ona, Dr. Carmencita Reodica, Dr. Paulyn Ubial, and Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan.

Relaxes provisions

The former health secretaries noted that the Vape Bill relaxes the provisions of RA 11467, an existing law that strictly regulates the said products. The bill lowers the age of access to vapes and e-cigarettes from 21 to 18 and transfers regulatory jurisdiction from the FDA to DTI. The bill also reverses a ban on flavors (except menthol and tobacco) and allows sales online.
“By lowering the age of access from 21 to 18, the Vape Bill exposes more of our youth, those who are still in senior high or about to enter college, to HTPs and e-cigarettes,” said Galvez-Tan.
Galvez-Tan, a trustee of HealthJustice Philippines, asked, “Why are we exposing them to this risk when under our laws, we are already protecting them?”
For her part, Reodica said that the senators should listen to health experts “at this crucial time.” “The medical community already explained that nicotine exposure at a young age impairs maximum development of the brain, making the youth vulnerable to engaging in harmful habits that are hard to break,” Reodica added.

Data support

Meanwhile, Ubial said that “data on the use of vapes and e-cigarettes among the youth show that we should be strengthening, and not relaxing our policies on these products.”
Ubial cited the results of the 2019 Global Youth Tobacco Survey, which show that one in seven Filipino students aged 13 to 15 use e-cigarettes. The GYTS also shows that one in eight Filipino students aged 13 to 15 currently use tobacco products.
“If our Senators pass this Vape Bill, it shows that they are gambling with the lives of our youth and children, and would rather prioritize the interests of the vape and tobacco industry rather than the health of our people during a pandemic,” Ubial said.
For his part, Dayrit also hit the bill’s reversal of the ban on flavors.
“Allowing more flavors for these harmful products does not make sense,” he said.
“There are around 16,000 vape and e-cigarette flavors on the market right now, and we know children and youth are more attracted to flavors. Regulations should aim to make these harmful products less appealing, not more enticing,” he added.

Cessation tools

Bengzon, meanwhile said: “If the industry is sincere in promoting these products as supposed ‘cessation tools’ for smoking, then why do the provisions of the Vape Bill treat these products as normal consumer products? Why not treat these the same way as other cessation tools, treated as medical and pharmaceutical products under the jurisdiction of the FDA?”
“The best way to curb smoking is still to quit, not shift,” said Ona.
Echoing the calls of medical groups, Ona stressed that smokers should not replace one addiction with another addiction, especially in the context of CAovid-19.
“Let’s not forget that the first case of EVALI [e-cigarette and vape associated lung injury] was already reported in the Philippines. Passing the Vape Bill will only increase our public health burdens,” he said.
Cabral, on the other hand, stressed, “We do not need a harmful Vape Bill to be passed in a pandemic. We do not need this Bill. We urge our Senators to junk this Vape Bill and prioritize other far more urgent health measures.”

Philippine survey confirms huge support for vaping

“The Philippine Senate will be on the right side of the people when it approves the most progressive vaping legislation in Asia Pacific,” says Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA).

Her comments follow the release of a survey conducted by ACORN Marketing & Research Consultants. ‘A Survey of Attitudes Among Adult Tobacco & Nicotine Users in the Philippines’ was commissioned by consumer advocacy group, Vapers PH.

Results confirm wide public support for a Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) approach, using less harmful alternatives to combustible cigarettes such as e-cigarettes, HTPs and other smoke-free products.

The survey revealed a staggering 94% of respondents agree that the Government should enact policies to encourage adult smokers to switch to less harmful alternatives to cigarettes. At the same time, they must ensure these products are not used by the youth.

After the House of Representatives passed the legislation in May, the Senate is now deliberating on the Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Act. It empowers the Government to regulate the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use and consumption of vapor (e-cigarettes) and heated tobacco products (HTPs).

Peter Dator, president of consumer group Vapers PH and CAPHRA member, says the results of this survey come at a crucial time.

“The Senate should be very encouraged that 9 out of ten Filipino smokers support the Government passing laws to encourage them to switch to less harmful alternatives. The support is overwhelming,” he says.

Ms Loucas says the Philippine Government should be congratulated for its determination to reflect the will the people.

“The Government has done well not to succumb to the World Health Organisation’s lies about vaping or Michael Bloomberg’s bullying of governments to ban safer nicotine alternatives,” she says.

ACORN’s survey on the attitudes of Filipino tobacco and nicotine consumers was conducted from 3 to 15 August 2021. It involved 2,000 respondents who were legal-age smokers (above 18) and vapers (above 21) nationwide.

The survey found that 72% of respondents believe e-cigarettes and HTPs are better alternatives to cigarettes and 88% of adult smokers would consider switching to smoke-free products. Nearly 90% believed that flavoured smoke-free products should be allowed, as long as they are not marketed or sold to non-smokers or youth.

As well as an overwhelmingly positive perception about safer nicotine products, the survey showed Filipino consumers wanted greater access to accurate information about the products.

Over 16 million Filipinos still smoke combustible cigarettes. Given nearly 90,000 Filipinos die from smoking-related diseases every year, Mr Dator says the legislation will go a long way to addressing the country’s stubbornly high smoking rates.

“Fortunately, about one million former Filipino smokers have already switched to novel smoke-free products such as electronic cigarettes and HTPs. This legislation will only encourage more Filipinos to put their health first,” says Mr Dator.

Ms Loucas says the Philippines adoption of best practice Tobacco Harm Reduction policies will hopefully be emulated by other Asia Pacific governments.

“Countries like Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong and India should listen to their people, not kowtow to the WHO’s poisoned anti-vaping view. By standing strongly and independently, Filipino Senators can be confident that their risk-proportionate legislation will save thousands of lives,” says Nancy Loucas.

The latest research proving anti-tobacco billionaire foundations have funnelled millions into Asia Pacific NGOs to lobby governments to ban vaping, and discredit vaping advocates, has received worldwide press attention.

To view the full findings and money trails, visit: https://www.24shareupdates.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Clarisse-Virgino-Research-with-IRS-returns-98.pdf

Now live and boasting over 14,000 testimonials, CAPHRA is calling on those who’ve quit cigarettes through smoke-free nicotine alternatives to tell their story on www.righttovape.org

Consumer groups in the Asia Pacific region have also launched a petition at change.org/v4v-petition that urges the WHO to respect consumer rights and to stop demonizing Tobacco Harm Reduction options ahead of November’s meeting of the WHO FCTC.

For a free digital media repository on tobacco harm reduction in Asia Pacific – including media releases, images and graphics – please visit https://apthrmedia.org

About CAPHRA

The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Advocates (CAPHRA) is a regional alliance of consumer tobacco harm reduction advocacy organisations. Its mission is to educate, advocate and represent the right of adult alternative nicotine consumers to access and use of products that reduce harm from tobacco use.

https://caphraorg.net/

Caught! Bloomberg’s fingerprints try to smear Filipino vape bill

“Perfectly orchestrated criticism from youth and student organizations on the vaping legislation currently before the Philippines Senate proves that undue foreign influence and money continue to be an ongoing issue in the Philippines,” says Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA).

“This latest well-timed supposed youth initiative against Senate Bill No. 2239 has the fingerprints of Bloomberg Philanthropies all over it. Their ridiculous claim that the ‘vape bill is anti-youth and anti-health’ is undoubtedly funded and driven out of America. All their baseless rhetoric is straight out the Bloomberg playbook. It’s very disappointing,” she says.

CAPHRA’s spokesperson says the timing of this latest foreign attack on domestic policymaking could not be worse. The Philippines’ Congress is currently demanding tighter measures against foreign interference.

The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability is calling for airtight policies to ensure foreign donors, such as Bloomberg, do not interfere in the country’s internal policymaking affairs.

“We are calling on Filipino Senators to see this latest well-funded and organised attack exactly for what it is: Unwanted foreign influence that the Philippines is now desperate to banish. Senators must reject this smear attempt forthwith,” says Ms Loucas.

CAPHRA says despite such despicable interference, the Philippines Senate looks set to approve the Non-Combustible Nicotine Delivery Systems Regulation Act. Also known as Senate Bill No. 2239, it aims to regulate the manufacture, use, sale, distribution, and promotion of vaping, as well as heated tobacco products (HTPs).

Peter Dator, President of adult consumer advocacy group Vapers PH and CAPHRA member, completely dismisses the youth organizations’ latest attempt to derail the progressive and risk-proportionate vape legislation.

“The purpose of the vape bill is not to promote youth entry into nicotine products, but to help address the enormous tobacco smoking epidemic we are facing. The bill has considerable safeguards to address youth access and ensures product safety standards to protect consumers,” he says.

Mr Dator says Vapers PH wholeheartedly agrees that vaping should not be introduced to the youth. It believes the imminent 18-year-old purchase age will provide young Filipino smokers with a real chance to quit cigarettes before the deadly habit sets in.

“We want fair and risk-proportionate regulation for vaping relative to tobacco regulation. We would be happy to support the legal age to purchase vape products remaining at 21 if the legal age to purchase cigarettes was to rise to 21. However, by ensuring both are 18 means young adult smokers have equal access to safer nicotine products,” he says.

Mr Dator says nearly 90,000 Filipinos die from smoking-related diseases every year, and over 16 million continue to smoke. The vape bill will simply enable and encourage more smokers to switch to vaping – the world’s most effective smoking cessation tool that’s been scientifically proven to be 95% less harmful than combustible cigarettes.

“We urge youth organizations to acknowledge the science. Allowing the alternatives to be more accessible, and in this case, simply just as accessible, would serve public health so much better.

“Not everyone can quit cigarettes cold turkey. We should stop discriminating against those who need alternatives to quit. It’s time to end the ’quit or die’ stigma that has been detrimental to ending the tobacco smoking epidemic in the Philippines. This vape bill will ensure a brighter and longer future for our young people,” says Peter Dator.

“We cannot wait for the Senate to now approve this leading legislation in the Asia Pacific region on how to do Tobacco Harm Reduction well. Ignoring any vestiges of foreign influence, this vape bill will be both lifesaving and historic for the Philippines,” says Nancy Loucas.

Now live and boasting nearly 14,000 testimonials, CAPHRA is calling on those who’ve quit cigarettes through smoke-free nicotine alternatives to tell their story on www.righttovape.org

Consumer groups in the Asia Pacific region have also launched a petition at change.org/v4v-petition that urges the World Health Organisation (WHO) to respect consumer rights and to stop demonizing Tobacco Harm Reduction options ahead of the next biennial meeting of the WHO Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in November.

For a free digital media repository on tobacco harm reduction in Asia Pacific – including media releases, images and graphics – please visithttps://apthrmedia.org

Philippines: Joint House Committees Approve Vape and Heated Tobacco Bill


Last December, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, announced a ban on the use and import of e-cigarettes, adding that anyone caught using the products would be arrested. The ban had been announced during a late night news conference, after the President was asked about a Department of Health report confirming the first EVALI case in the country.

“I will ban it. The use and importation. You know why? Because it is toxic and the government has the power to issue measures to protect public health and public interest,” said Duterte at the time.

Thankfully, moving away from a ban to regulation, the joint committees have imposed clear guidelines on the production and importation of the products. Clear regulations have also been set for the minimum age for use (at 18 years), the use of health warnings similar to the ones for cigarettes and public places where consumers can vape.

The Non Combustible Nicotine Delivery System Regulation Act of 2020

If passed into law, the bill shall be known as the “Non Combustible Nicotine Delivery System Regulation Act of 2020” and has been voted for by a total of 88 congressmen. “Recognizing the need for a viable alternative to combustible cigarettes, governments around the world and leading public health institutions have explored the concept of harm reduction as a public health strategy to combat the smoking epidemic,” said Deputy House Speaker Deogracias Victor Savellano.

Harm reduction is grounded on the idea that people smoke for the nicotine but die from the tar. Hence, if there is a way to deliver nicotine to those who smoke cigarettes without the associated harmful by-products that are produced in combustible cigarettes, it would enable smokers to finally quit smoking,” added Savellano.

Minimum age set at 18

Retailers will be required to verify the age of all buyers via the presentation of any valid government-issued identification card.

With regards to the 18 years minimum age, retailers will be required to verify the age of all buyers via the presentation of any valid government-issued identification card exhibiting the buyer’s photograph and age/date of birth. Additionally, the sale and/or distribution of the products will not be permitted within one hundred (100) meters from any point of the perimeter of a school, playground or other facility frequented by minors.

The bill also requires all manufacturers, importers, and distributors of e-cigarettes and HTPs to place health warnings on the principal display surface with the text: “This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance. It is not recommended for use by non-smokers” or “This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance.”

Displaying health warnings

Manufacturers will be required to “display other applicable graphic health warnings” as set by the relevant authorities.

Moreover, manufacturers will be required to “display other applicable graphic health warnings to be prescribed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health (DOH) in the implementing rules and regulations of this Act.”

The sale or distribution of the products will be permitted online via internet websites, e-commerce and/or other similar media. However, the sellers or distributors must adopt measures to ensure that access to the internet website or via e-commerce and/or other similar media shall be restricted to persons eighteen (18) years old or older, and that the internet website shall bear the signages required under this Act.

Adverts’ restrictions

The bill would allow advertisements in retailer establishments, through direct marketing and online. These shall not be aimed at or particularly appeal to persons under eighteen (18) years of age, and must not undermine quit-smoking messages. Additionally, these adverts should not encourage non-tobacco and non-nicotine users to use e-cigarettes and HTPs, and any information with regard to product characteristics, health effects, risks, or emissions, must be true.

Section 14 of the bill states that the use of e-cigarettes and HTPs shall be prohibited in all enclosed public places except in designated vaping areas. The indoor use of these products will be  prohibited in schools, hospitals, government offices, and facilities intended particularly for minors.

Standards for specific features

Additionally, standards will be set in place for a number of features related to the devices. “The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in consultation with the FDA, has been tasked to set standards for market entry notification and standards on flavors and additives used in the manufacture of e-liquids and refills, as well as on electronic components of e-cigarettes,” read a press release.

“For HTPs, the DTI, in consultation with the Inter-Agency Committee on Tobacco (IAC-Tobacco) created by virtue of Republic Act No. 9211, shall set standards on HTPs with regard to consumables and the electronic components. Existing industries and businesses affected by the implementation of the proposed Act shall be given an 18-month transitory period from the effectivity of the implementing rules and regulations to comply with the requirements.”

Philippines: Juul Halted E-Cig Sales to Minors Ahead of Ban



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