Baguio City – In a move to arrest the growing number of youth who are into vaping, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong asked the city’s smoke-free task force and the city council to further strengthen its awareness campaign against the harms of vaping.

“Vaping has become a growing problem among our youth with many who are attracted to its flavors and perceptions that it is a safer alternative to smoking. However, the truth is far from it. Vaping has been linked to serious health problems such as lung damage and in some cases, leads to death,” Magalong said during the Capacity Building Development and Communication Strategy Workshop on Vape Regulation held in this city last Feb 2.

Attended by youth representatives, members of the Parent and Teacher Association, representatives from the Parents Against Vape (PAV) Baguio, and the city’s Smoke-Free Taskforce, Magalong urged the public to also “acknowledge that vaping is not just a health issue, but an environmental problem as well. The production and disposal of vape products contributed to the pollution of our planet. The harmful chemicals in producing these products can harm wildlife and most especially our environment.”

Magalong thus urged the city council to pass a resolution mandating all buses going to Baguio to show videos on the ill-effects of cigarettes and vapes. He instructed the Smoke-Free Task Force to link with partners and produce videos that will hopefully prevent people, especially the youth, from taking up the habit of smoking and vaping.

Magalong’s proposal to show videos was based on his experience when he trained in the United States in the early years of his military career. He shared that before they do their physical training that entailed them to run for miles, they are made to watch videos showing the impact of smoking on one’s health. Seeing this video four times a week made him and the rest of his colleagues give up smoking or not take up the habit at all.

He believes of the same result if the practice is also adopted in Baguio City.

Dr. Donnabel Panes, Tobacco Control Coordinator of Baguio City, affirmed the numerous dangers of vape products. Panes mentioned that vaping can lead to addiction, with studies supporting that vapers may eventually lead them to smoke cigarettes in the future. Just like smoking traditional cigarette, vaping can damage lungs which may results to lung cancer.

Meanwhile, Levy Lloyd Orcales, Sangguniang Kabataan Federation President, assured the youth’s support to the city’s goal of a vape-free and smoke-free community. He noted that more than 200 youth representatives are “very much eager to support as it will benefit the next generation.”

The workshop also discussed current policy issuances regarding vapor product regulation at the national and local government levels, and the impact of weak regulation on the right to health of Baguio residents, particularly on the youth. It served as a venue to discuss ways on how local health advocates can support, defend, and monitor local health policies like the Smoke-Free and Vape-Free Ordinance of Baguio City.

The workshop was facilitated by Health Justice Philippines and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.