Parents Against Vape (PAV) has strongly condemned Mr. Asa Saligupta, the director of ENDS Cigarette Smoke Thailand, for advocating pro-vaping sentiments and urging the Thai government to follow in the footsteps of the Philippines by enacting legislation that promotes the use of less harmful alternatives to traditional smoking.

In a recent statement, Saligupta lauded the benefits of the Vape Law, officially known as Republic Act 11900, in the Philippines, claiming it facilitates broader consumer access to ‘safer’ nicotine and tobacco products. However, PAV disputed these claims, asserting that vaping is not inherently safer than traditional tobacco, as it contains harmful chemicals, including carcinogens and heavy metals detrimental to both users and the environment.

The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance echoed PAV’s sentiments, emphasizing that Saligupta’s lobbying efforts contradict Thailand’s progress in tobacco control. The alliance also highlighted the disapproval of Thai youth, who advocate for maintaining the ban on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.

PAV expressed concern about the deceptive tactics employed by the tobacco industry, accusing it of presenting itself as a proponent of harm reduction for public health while marketing e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products as ‘safer alternatives.’ The organization criticized the industry for targeting children to replace the eight million smokers it claims annually.

The 2019 Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) revealed alarming statistics regarding youth addiction to e-cigarettes in the Philippines. Approximately 14.1% of students aged 13 to 15 reported current e-cigarette use, surpassing the prevalence of other tobacco products. PAV argued that, despite successful activism against traditional tobacco products, e-cigarettes have become a primary tool for hooking new tobacco users, especially among the youth.

As smoking rates decline globally, major tobacco companies like Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco Inc are diverting significant resources to the Philippines and the broader Asian region. PAV emphasized these companies’ financial interests, noting their substantial investments in the Philippines, with Philip Morris International investing PhP8.8 billion ($150 million) to produce smokeless heated tobacco sticks, anticipating a shift away from conventional cigarettes.

PAV concluded by criticizing the tobacco industry’s strategies to secure an endless stream of replacement users. They pointed out the introduction of over 15,000 enticing flavors in the Philippine market, designed to attract the youth, and accused the industry of turning millions of young people into addicted customers while maintaining the facade of not targeting children. Youth Against Vape echoed these concerns, underscoring the industry’s use of flavors to appeal to kids and create a new generation of tobacco users.