Thursday, May 30, 2024

Preventing Youth E-cigarette Epidemic in Philippines

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According to a report on September 19th, despite a clear ban by the Philippines on the sale and distribution of various tobacco products, particularly e-cigarettes, in schools or their surroundings, recent research suggests that many retailers have not been complying with this regulation. The repeated illegal practices have sparked a potential e-cigarette “epidemic” among the country’s youth.

In order to protect adolescents from the temptation of smoking and using various tobacco products, the Philippines has implemented regulations prohibiting the sale, display, and promotion of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products in schools and their surroundings. Despite these measures, recent studies have revealed that teenagers continue to be the target market for tobacco products. Research conducted from December 2022 to January 2023 uncovered over 2,000 locations selling tobacco products within a 100-meter radius of at least 276 schools. Among these, e-cigarettes were predominantly found in convenience stores and dedicated e-cigarette shops.

According to data from the Philippine Pediatric Society, 11% of students aged 10 to 15 have tried e-cigarettes. The Department of Education (DepEd) reports that among students in grades 7 to 9, 6.7% have tried and are currently using e-cigarettes. The main reasons for smoking are the ease of access (32%), variety of flavors (22%), and belief that e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes (17%).

This situation has prompted serious concerns, as e-cigarette companies in the market are using cunning marketing strategies to addict Filipino teenagers to nicotine, thereby posing a threat to their health.

The Philippine organization for the protection of children’s rights and health is calling on the Department of Education and the University Education Commission to issue guidelines for the sale of e-cigarettes. They are also urging for a ban on the sale of these products within a 200-meter radius of schools and the establishment of multiple youth activity centers, including elementary schools, junior and senior high schools, colleges, universities, and residential areas, as well as entertainment facilities for those under the age of 18. Strict enforcement of policies prohibiting the sale and promotion of tobacco products in schools and their vicinity can help protect the well-being of Filipino youths and reduce tobacco-related deaths and diseases.

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