Mumbai, August 2, 2022: On Monday, July 25th, Philippines enacted its Vape Bill into a law. The measure aims to regulate the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use, and communication of vapour and heated tobacco products. The enactment of this legislation makes the Philippines one of very few Asian countries with progressive vaping regulations intended to benefit adult smokers.
With this development, Philippines joins a group of nations like Thailand, Uruguay, Japan, United States and The United Kingdom adopting progressive regulations around tobacco harm reduction backed by scientific evidence. The most important aspect of the law is that it legitimizes vaping as a strategy to help smokers above the age of 18 years to choose less harmful non-combustible alternatives.
Liza Katsiashvili, community manager at World Vapers’ Alliance, said: “While most policymakers are misinformed and fight against vaping, the Philippines followed the right path to embrace vaping as an effective harm reduction innovation to save lives. Other countries should follow this example and endorse smart vaping policies to ensure improved public health for millions of consumers globally.”
Such transformative developments across the globe serve as an important lesson for countries such as India to emulate and embrace science-based regulations to address their smoking problems. With 12% of world smokers, India has the second-largest tobacco consuming population in the world. Despite, the increasing numbers, there has been limited progress to provide access to harm reducing alternatives, owing to the ban on such products. The nation continues to adopt more moralistic policies of banning harm reducing alternatives or through outright regulation providing no alternative to adult smokers but to opt for combustible tobacco products resulting in a big health and economic crisis.
As one of the largest emerging economies, India can lead by example by adopting scientifically approved safer alternatives, yet the country banned such alternatives. This approach misses a huge public health opportunity to address the problem of cigarette smoking, considered by many to be the leading preventable cause of death and disease in India.
Extreme policies like bans go against the growing body of science that points to these products being significantly less harmful than cigarette smoking. Many experts and health authorities around the world, such as the UK’s Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England, have recognized that smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes represent a revolutionary opportunity to reduce the harm caused by cigarette smoking. As per a report undertaken by Public Health England ‘E-cigarettes: An evidence update’, E-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than normal cigarettes.
To avoid missing this critical public health opportunity it is important for Governments across the globe to revisit traditional thinking, challenge moralistic policy and work towards providing access to safer alternatives and realize the true potential of tobacco harm reduction.