THEY just want to be heard.
Advocates launched over the weekend an Asia-wide movement dubbed as #SmokeFree4Life that supports the use of safer alternative nicotine products at Verde in Poblacion, Makati.
“Our main purpose is to inform the public what vaping is all about and to make sure that proper information is being shared to the Filipino people with regards to vaping, to counter fake news about vaping,” said Peter Paul Dator, president of Vapers Philippines, a nationwide consumer advocacy group which organized the Makati event with the support of Vaper Ako and the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA).
The group urged the World Health Organization and the Department of Health to respect the rights of smokers who want to switch to safer smoke-free alternatives in the 9th Session of the Conference of the Parties (CoP9) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) set to be held in November.
The regional movement, led by CAPHRA and backed by vapers and former smokers from different countries, seek to curb the smoking epidemic in the Asia-Pacific and inform smokers on the existence of safer alternatives such as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) or electronic cigarettes, heat-not-burn tobacco products and snus.
“We, vapers and former smokers, and advocates of tobacco harm reduction, have an opportunity to add to the global discussions on ENDS, heat-not-burn tobacco products and snus as much safer alternatives to combustible cigarettes. We stand up for our freedom of choice. We stand up for our rights as consumers,” said Clarisse Virgino, the Philippine representative to CAPHRA.
“We stand up for the well-being of more than a billion cigarette smokers globally who are now presented with better and innovative nicotine products. We are here united and collectively call on the WHO and other health authorities to start caring for them by allowing them access to safer alternatives that they want and deserve.”
Virgino is hoping that the education and information campaign about the benefits of ENDS or electronic cigarettes, heat-not-burn tobacco products, snus and other smoke-free nicotine.
President Duterte signed Executive Order No. 106 last week that prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products, and novel tobacco products to those below the age of 21, and requires the registration of such products and its components with the Food and Drug Administration. Establishments that manufacture, import, and sell e-cigarettes meanwhile are required to secure a license to operate from the FDA.