E-cigarette groups in the country called for sobriety amid alarming statements from government officials bent on banning vaping products following the outbreak of vaping-related illnesses in the United States.
“Let’s face it. Vaping is not completely safe but it is a much better alternative to smoking. If we ban e-cigarettes, thousands of vapers might go back to cigarettes,” The Vapers PH said.
Vaping products have been found to have 90 percent to 95 percent less toxins found in cigarette smoke.
The group said reports of a 16-year-old girl from Central Visayas being the country’s first vaping-injury patient was not yet conclusive. Even the Department of Health said it would take weeks and several more tests before it could be concluded that the victim suffered from e-cigarette related lung-infection.
The Vapers PH and the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates cited the breakthrough report of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention which found vitamin E acetate “as the chemical of concern” found in the lung fluids of 29 people who fell seriously ill or died in the outbreak in the United States.
The CDC report, although not yet final, said vitamin E acetate “might be used as an additive, most notably as a thickening agent in THC-containing e-cigarettes.
THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is a crystalline compound that is the main psychoactive ingredient of cannabis or marijuana.
“The CDC breakthrough report provides much-needed answers and clarity to the lung disease epidemic in the US. With the report’s findings, ‘misinformed groups’ should immediately stop blaming legal vaping products for this unfortunate situation. Spreading misinformation will dissuade smokers looking to quit from switching to vaping and current vapers going back to smoking cigarettes,” said Mark Czerwin Erana, president of The Vapers PH.
In its report, the CDC recommends that “people should not use e-cigarettes, or vaping products that contain THC, particularly from informal sources like friends or family or in-person or online dealers.” The CDC said “people should not add any substance to e-cigarette or vaping products that are not intended by the manufacturer, including products purchased through retail establishments.”
Both The Vapers PH and CAPHRA cited the lack of regulation that led to the outbreak in the US. In comparison, they said there was no major report in the United Kingdom where e-cigarette use is regulated with more and more smokers switching to regulated vape products.
Erana cited the Public Health England statement on the US case that “the outbreak is not linked to long-term use of regulated nicotine vaping products. If it were, we would expect to see a very different demographic profile affected, more typical of long-term vapers.”
Clarisse Virgino, Philippine representative to CAPHRA, agreed. “While vaping is often characterized as the common association in the US outbreak, we need to understand that vaping is a process, not a product. The vapor from e-cigarettes is produced using a heating element that turns the e-liquid contained in the cartridge, tank, or pod into a vapor. The level of risk posed to the user lies in the substances that are being vaped, rather than the process itself. The CDC report clearly identifies illicit substances added to unregulated e-liquids as the culprit in the US outbreak,” she said.
The PHE noted that e-cigarettes containing nicotine are more tightly regulated in the UK than in the US. The main chemicals under suspicion in the US, THC and vitamin E acetate oil, are not permitted in e-cigarettes in the UK. The agency said that similar restrictions on e-cigarettes apply across Europe under the European Tobacco Products Directive.
The agency warned that the illicit drugs similar to those in the US might be available in the UK, and that it is closely monitoring the situation in the country, according to the PHE.
Erana and Virgino said that The Vapers PH and CAPHRA would follow the PHE advice on e-cigarettes that smokers should consider switching completely and vapers should stop smoking.
E-cigarettes and heated tobacco products are forms of tobacco harm reduction, a public health strategy to lower the health risks to individuals and wider society associated with using tobacco products. Tobacco harm reduction aims to provide safer alternatives to reduce harm caused by smoking and to provide nicotine to people who cannot or do not want to quit smoking by themselves or with currently-approved methods.
Heated tobacco products, unlike liquid nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, heat specially designed tobacco units just enough to release a flavorful nicotine-containing tobacco vapor but without burning the tobacco.
Because the tobacco is not burned, the levels of harmful chemicals produced by heat-not-burn products are significantly lower compared to combustible cigarette smoke. A popular heated tobacco product brand is IQOS―an electronic device that heats tobacco-filled sticks wrapped in paper, called HEETS to generate a nicotine-containing aerosol.
The PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the UK Department of Health established in 2013 to bring together public health specialists from more than 70 organizations into a single public health service.
Its staff consisting mostly of scientists, researchers and public health professionals provides evidence-based professional, scientific expertise and support to the UK government, national health agency, legislators, industry, and the public.