Nagsagawa ng Face to face at Online press conference ang ilang grupo na tumututol sa pagamit ng electronics cegarettes nitong nakaraang araw Nov. 10, 2021, na kung saan ito ay ginanap sa isang reastaurant sa Quezon City.

Ang nasabing press conference ay inorganisa ng grupo na kinabibilangan ng Health Justice, CRN, PARENTS Against Vape, at PLCPD, ito ay may temang: Tinig ng Bayan Pakinggan, Kalusugan Ipaglaban! ang nasabing pagpupulong ay hinggil sa isinagawang resulta ng Pulse Asia Survey tungkol sa electronic cigarettes.

Sa unang bahagi ng programa iprenesinta ni Dr. Ana Maria Tabunda, Research Director ng Pulse Asia ang resulta ng isinagawang survey ng Pulse Asia hingil sa pagamit ng e-cegarettes. Sinundan ito ng findings at epecto ng e-cegarettes sa mga kabataan na ipinaliwanag ni Dr. Rizalina Gonzalez,  Chair, Tobacco Control Advocacy Group  of the Philippine Pediatric Society.

Sa Panel Discussion, para maprotektahan ang mga kabataan sa tobacco epidemic, ito ay dinaluhan nina:  Ms. Imelda Esposado Gocotano ng Parents Against Vape, Ms. Toni Flores, Coordinator, Child Rights Network, Atty. Ben Nisperos, Legal Consultant, Health Justice Philippines,Dr. Mel Anthony Acuevera, Medical Officers 1V, Health Promotion Bureau, Department of Health, TBC, Department of Education at ang dalawang legislator s na sina Rep. Ruffy Biazon, Lone Distict, Muntinlupa City at Senator Pia Cayetano (TBC), at ang testimonial mula kay Kyle na dating vape user.

Hindi naninigario si Kyle Esposado. At ni minsan hindi niya sinubukang manigarilio. subalit nong ang kanyang nakatatandang kapatid na kuya ay nagdala ng napakagandang gudget na kung saan naglalabas ng amoy sweet chocolate, masyado itong na amased. doon na nagsimulang matuto ng paninigarilio si Kyle at nagbibigayan pa sila ng kanyang kuya.

“I love the chocolate flavor, and thought it was cool. I also never thought that it was bad for my health because how can something that smells good be toxic?” Kyle, who was a minor when he started using vapes, said. Not long after, he started coughing for no apparent reasons. He also started having difficulty breathing.

“That’s when I thought I should stop. It was also some sort of a blessing that my brother lost his job so he cannot buy flavored juices anymore,” he narrated in a recent media briefing.

Kyle’s experience clearly shows the need to highly regulate vapes.

In study conducted by the Philippine Pediatric Society in partnership with the Department of Education, Dr. Rizalina Gonzalez of the Philippine Pediatric Society confirmed that among Filipino youth “flavors” was also one of the top reasons why they tried vapes.

In the US, flavored e-cigarettes was blamed for the “epidemic” on youth-use of vapes as declared by the US Food and Drugs Administration. Currently, many US States adopted flavor bans to arrest the growing number of users of vapes among their youth.

Rodrigo Roa Duterte made a strong stand against vape proliferation in the country in 2019 when he said that these products are “toxic” and said that government has “the power to issue measures to protect public health and interest.” As a result of this statement, two laws were passed strictly regulating e-cigarettes by raising the age of access to vapes from 18 to 21, restricting vape flavors to menthol and tobacco, and putting regulatory power over the product under Food and Drugs Administration.

However, the Senate Vape Bill (SB 2239) of Senator Ralph Recto attempts to reverse these restrictions by lowering access to vapes to 18, allowing more flavors, and even providing looser policy on use of vapes in public.

Dr. Gonzalez registers strong opposition against the bill saying that current regulations should actually need to be strengthened by even increasing the age of access to vapes and even cigarettes to 25 years old and ban menthol flavors which were also proven to attract the youth.

“Even with the existing regulations, we already found that almost 11% of students with the age of 10-15 years old have already tried vapes. It will be highly irresponsible to even lower the age of access specially with the experience of other countries” she added. According to Dr. Gonzalez, the youth are easily influenced by friends who are also using vapes. “Our children who are below 18 usually have friends in their social circle who are 18 years old and above and are able to access vapes.”

Senator Rector justifies the lowering of age to 18 to align it to the existing law on cigarettes.

Senator Pia Cayetano, on the other hand, filed a bill increasing the age of access to cigarettes to 21 also to align the almost 20-year old Tobacco Regulation Act to current evidence supporting the need to increase the age of access to cigarettes.

Toni Flores, Coordinator of the Child Rights Network (CRN) laments that Senator Recto would even consider weakening existing policies despite the local and global evidence showing the danger to a possible youth-use epidemic happening in the Philippines. She also cited studies that vape-use has been proven to be a gateway to cigarette-use which is directly opposite to the claim of the vape groups.

“If the Recto Vape Bill is passed we should expect more young people to be lured into this harmful vice and eventually led to the fatal addiction to cigarettes. This is against the best interest of the child and compromises children’s rights to survival and development. We must not leave anything to chance when it comes to the protection of our children,” she added.