SEN. Francis Tolentino yesterday called on concerned government agencies to ban the use of electronic cigarettes and vaporizers until their implications on the public’s health are fully determined.
Tolentino noted that at least 23 countries have banned the use of e-cigarettes or vapes, which are marketed as alternatives to tobacco products.
“Bakit hindi natin ipagbawal hanggang hindi natin alam ang medical environment nito (Why don’t we prohibit its use until we fully understand it medical environment),” Tolentino told radio dzBB.
Citing recent studies in the United States, Tolentino said e-cigarettes and vapes have caused serious illnesses affecting the heart and lungs.
He said based on the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 39 deaths among vape users in the US as of November this year and doctors have found a common chemical in their body called vitamin E acetate, an oily substance found in typical household items, including foods, supplements, and even skin creams.
According to the CDC’s website, “Vitamin E acetate usually does not cause harm when ingested as a vitamin supplement or applied to the skin. However, previous research suggests when vitamin E acetate is inhaled, it may interfere with normal lung functioning.”
He said Singapore and Australia have even declared these products as poison. He said the World Health Organization has also issued a health warning on the use of these products even if has yet to come out with the results of its studies.
He said studies also showed that vape juices are laced with cannabis oil which makes it addictive to the users and raised fears that drug lords might lace the vape juice with shabu extracts.
Tolentino also questioned a move by Senate Ways and Means committee chair Pia Cayetano to impose higher taxes on these products to regulate their use. Cayetano filed Senate Bill 1074 to raise “sin” taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and vaping products. The bill is still pending on second reading.
“Sa pagmamadali natin patawan ng buwis ‘yan baka ang makolekta natin mas malaki pa sa pagpapagamot. Inilahad ko na baka mas marami pa ang idulot na masama kesa kabutihan (We are such in a hurry to collect additional taxes that what we might collect would not be enough for their medication. Allowing use of vapes might cause more harm than the benefits we can get out of the additional taxes we can collect),” Tolentino said.