VERY early in the day, when Sen. Pia Cayetano, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, was advocating on the floor the idea of imposing higher taxes on e-cigarettes and vaporizers or vapes, Sen. Francis “Tol” Tolentino already raised questions as to the health risks of these products.
To Tolentino’s mind, taxing vapes means allowing their use, and “this might cause more harm than the benefits we can get out of the additional taxes that we can collect.”
He cited that Singapore and Australia have declared these smoking devices as “poison” while studies in the United States tend to show that e-cigarettes and vapes caused serious illnesses affecting the heart and the lungs.
According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 39 deaths among vape users in the US as of November this year. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned against smoking of any kind, including vaping.
The Pasay City government, meanwhile, acted in support of Sen. Tolentino’s position when it banned the use of vaping devices in public places, and restricted its use in private ones.
Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano approved an ordinance of the Pasay City Council led by Vice Mayor Noel del Rosario banning the use of e-cigarettes indoors, such as offices, hospitals and other health care facilities, government offices, educational and recreational facilities and public conveyances.
The Pasay ordinance cited a study by the John Hopkins University School of Medicine that said regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes are both “bad to people’s health” and thus should be avoided. The American Society of Clinical Oncology said the same thing, noting that e-cigarettes pose a clear and present danger against the health of the public.
Like Tolentino, Rubiano believes that it is “high time to impose stricter measures on these substances to protect the youth and the general public against the ill effects of cigarette smoking and vaping.”
It is a big irony that while the Duterte administration is seriously fighting drug addiction and substance abuse, there is still this plan to tax smoking devices that were found to be very harmful to health, making them legal and acceptable.
For vape users and enthusiasts, perhaps it is time to heed the warnings of Mayor Rubiano and Sen. Tol. Life is too precious to lose in the swirly smoke of vapor.