Public health experts in the Philippines are urging the government to ensure that health warnings on vape products are accurate, scientifically-sound and proportionate to the risks of smoking.
Speaking at the recent Philippine Harm Reduction Online Forum, health experts expressed their concerns that the warnings could be based on speculation, fear-mongering and prejudice.
Medical Professor and Keynote Speaker Tikki Pangsetu said: “By all means, health warnings should be placed on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs) as the laws and regulations mandate, but these should be proportionate to the risk.”
“This is because e-cigarettes and HTPs have been shown to be 90-percent to 95-percent less harmful than combustible cigarettes.”
Pangsetu outlined that, due to diverging opinions regarding smoke-less products, many countries are yet to introduce appropriate and effective regulations for e-cigarette warnings.
“There are many factors to be considered in developing regulations but in my view, such regulations must, in the first instance, be based on the science and evidence around smoke-free products.”
Pangsetu stressed that policymakers and local health officials must express autonomy when deciding how to implement the health warnings of smoke-free products. In the Philippines and Indonesia, local governments are turning to the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) instead of developing their own.
“Unfortunately, at this point in time, the WHO position on smoke-free products is quite negative, and even recommends banning some of these products in several countries,” Pangsetu said.
“There are public health experts who strongly support the WHO position, but there are also public health experts who advocate keeping an open mind on the potential of smoke-free products in helping people to quit smoking.
“But at the end of the day, the WHO cannot tell a country what to do and the final decision is up to the country.”
Pangsetu highlighted that, for regions with high smoking numbers, the regulation of e-cigarettes and other smokeless products is based on political, economic and social factors, as well aas public health.
Source: Philstar Global