DoH dared on vapers’ rights

A group is never too big when watchers look the other way; a voice never too loud when only deaf ears turn to them.

Isn’t it exasperating, frustrating when a crowd has to be large and loud just to be heard and attended to?

When a public office ignores the interest of the public, it defeats its reason for being, are the people not morally justified in seeking to replace or supplant it with another which would do their bidding?

Do these agencies have to be swamped, swarmed, and stampeded just to get their attention?

An Asian alliance of tobacco harm-reduction advocacy organizations has asked the Department of Health to bring up the rights of Filipino smokers who want to switch to safer alternatives during the Ninth Session of the Conference of the Parties of the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control  in November.

The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates  also asked DoH to question the restrictive policy of WHO that tolerates the use of combustible cigarettes, while discouraging the use of 95-percent less harmful smoke-free Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems.

CAPHRA sent separate letters this month to Asian health ministers who will lead the preparation of their countries' position on ENDS, preparatory to the CoP9 of WHO-FCTC.

There are 181 parties to the WHO FCTC?a global treaty that seeks "to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke".

The regular sessions of the Conference of the Parties are held every two years and ar set to  take place this year in The Hague, Netherlands in November. WHO asked every signatory country to submit a summary of its position on ENDS preparatory to FCTC COP9.

The alliance said tobacco use causes a million deaths per year in the Asia-Pacific region, with smoke as the main culprit. It said, however, that e-cigarettes provide smokers with an option to get away from smoking and could hasten the demise of the cigarette.

"It has been known for decades that tar, and carcinogens found in tobacco smoke, cause the death and disease associated with smoking, and not nicotine" said CAPHRA.

CAPHRA said that as the FCTC has a mandate to pursue “harm reduction” as a core tobacco control policy, it has failed to acknowledge or implement this policy over the last 18 years. It has effectively deprived smokers of an effective way out of smoking, according to the coalition.

CAPHRA also noted that the successive FCTC-COPs had refused to consider the overwhelming scientific evidence proving ENDS to be a much less harmful alternative to smoking and an extraordinarily effective smoking-cessation strategy that has worked for millions of smokers in developed countries.

“The WHO FCTC approach to smoke-free alternatives is not only outdated but is making fertile ground to create an even more insidious and very real public health crisis,” CAPHRA said.

“It is a violation of the human rights of all smokers and current users of safer nicotine products, to ban or restrict access to these products and it goes against the mandate of the WHO FCTC Article 1 that clearly outlines a two-pronged approach to the global tobacco crisis that includes a harm reduction approach,” CAPHRA said.

CAPHRA said it is criminal to allow the product (cigarette) that is known to kill people with certainty to be sold liberally on the free market and ban or restrict access to safer alternatives for adult smokers.

The coalition, therefore, asked DOH and other health ministries in Asia to bring to FCTC-COP9 discussion the consumers' rights to choose less harmful products as a way to protect themselves from smoke.

Electronic cigarettes are regulated by DoH based on Administrative Order .) 2014-0008 entitled “Rules and Regulations on Electronic Nicotine Delivery System or Electronic Cigarettes” issued in March 2014.

Based on WHO's own data, more than 100,000 Filipinos die each year from smoking-related diseases, such as lung cancer and heart failure.

Behold God’s glory and  seek His mercy.

Pause and pray, people.