Clarify PH stand on HTPs/ENDS in global meet

April 03, 2020

Lies are messy. I’m not in the business of messy, it’s risky. Simple is safe. -- Replicas

Prior notification and transparency.

Is this too much to ask from a government which supposedly has an avowed policy of full public disclosure, especially when it comes to health issues?  

A consumer organization only wants to know what the government is committing to an international conference late this year where representative are foreign vested interests are expected to have teir sway over th proceedings while consigning the concerns of citizens/taxpayers.

It has asked Finance Sec.  Carlos Dominguez III to clarify the position of the government on smoke-free nicotine products such as electronic cigarettes, heat-not-burn tobacco products, and snus ahead of a global meeting in November.

The Vapers Philippines sent a letter to Dominguez as the government prepares its position on  electronic nicotine delivery systems preparatory to the Ninth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which will be held in The Hague, Netherlands.

"As the government is sending delegates to COP9 to represent the electorate, and as consumers' rights to use less harmful products to switch from smoking remain under tremendous threat from FCTC's continuing failure to address scientific evidence, democratic processes and human rights, we respectfully request that you share with us the details of our nation's position," The Vapers PH said in the letter.

TVP is a consumer organization that advocates for vaping as much safer alternative to cigarette smoking and pushes policies that fairly regulate the use of smoke-free nicotine products such as e-cigs, heat-not-burn tobacco products, and snus. It believes in the right to vape and promotes awareness about the health effects of using e-cig.

The group said that while the FCTC has a mandate to pursue harm reduction as a core tobacco- control policy, it has singularly failed to acknowledge or implement this over the past 18 years.

It said scientific studies show that smoke-free nicotine products are much less harmful alternatives to combustible cigarettes because they do not produce smoke.  She said that some governments erroneously claim that nicotine is carcinogenic.  "We hope the Department of Finance does not contribute to this falsehood," it added.

This is because it has been known for decades that tar, and carcinogens found in tobacco smoke, cause disease and death associated with smoking, and not nicotine.  Research has proven that nicotine, while usually mildly addictive in the same way as caffeine, is not a health issue.  

The letter stated that even WHO accepts this fact, as demonstrated by its position on the use of nicotine patches, gums and sprays and other pharmaceutical 'smoking-cessation' products which it has announced are safe for long-term use by smokers looking to switch to less harmful forms of nicotine consumption.

"Nicotine is not the enemy—it is smoke, and tar and the other by-products of combustion.  Yet this government continues to permit the sale and use of the obviously most dangerous nicotine product (smoking cigarettes) alongside certain alternative nicotine products while refusing to acknowledge the benefits of allowing smokers to switch to other novel nicotine products that are now known to be both far safer and also more effective in aiding smokers to stop using combustible tobacco," it said.

Public Health England's annual reviews of all available evidence have consistently concluded that e-cigs are around 95-percent less harmful than smoking. 

The Vapers PH asked Dominguez, representing the Cabinet, to consider allowing Filipinos to choose non-pharmaceutical, non-combustible interventions that provide users with the nicotine they enjoy without the smoke and tar, such as e-cigs, heat-not-burn tobacco products, and snus which have been chosen and used by millions of consumers worldwide to easily, effectively and permanently switch from smoking combustible tobacco.

A February 2019 clinical trial by UK's National Institute for Health Research found that e-cig was twice as effective as nicotine-replacement treatments such as patches and gum at helping smokers quit.

"As a responsible consumer organization, we call on your delegates to COP9 to deplore the policy of FCTC to make these sessions closed-door, unaccountable, and unreported, representing only vested interests whose actions have thus far impeded the rights of citizens and voters to choose for themselves to switch to safer alternatives to deadly smoking," the group said.

"Delegates to COP9 should be representing the rights and aspirations of the citizens whose taxes are paying for their attendance, who expect them to speak on their behalf, acknowledge the science underpinning the harm reduction benefits of ENDS, and maintain democratic principles," the group said.

Vapers PH said Filipino consumers and voters have the right to make choices that help them avoid adverse health outcomes and smokers have the right to access less harmful nicotine products as alternatives to smoking.  

"We ask you to take account of this right when making your submission to COP9," they said in the letter.

The Vapers PH also sent similar letters to the secretaries of the Departments of Health, Trade and Industry, and Tourism. 

***

Longer ECQ bane to economy

Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III said any extension of  the enhanced quarantine period to contain the 2019 coronavirus contagion “certainly not positive” for the economy.

“But remember that now the goals are to preserve the health of the people, to provide financial support to the people in the informal sector, to support all the front-liners, and to provide liquidity for the economy,” Dominguez stressed.

There have been talks about the possible extension of the ECQ, but the DoF chief ez declined to confirm or deny this, saying “the ECQ addresses a health concern which the economic team is not qualified to comment on.”

Luzon has been placed under an enhanced community quarantine since March 17 and this will last until April 12, 2020.

Different levels of quarantine have been raised all over the country as municipal and provincial governments become pro-active to prevent the further rise of cases and prevent the virus from infecting their constituents.  

Among the fiscal measures that the government has put in place to date for Covid-19 response are the allocation of an initial P27.1 billion for sectors affected by the global pandemic, and the P200 billion that is realigned from this year’s national budget as mandated under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Monetary measures include the total of 75 basis points cut in the Bangko Sentral key policy rates, the 200-basis-point reduction in universal and commercial banks’ reserve requirement ratio, the purchase of P300 billion worth of government securities that will be repaid in a maximum of six-month period, and the operational relief measures for foreign exchange transactions.

As of April 1, total Covid-19 cases in the country reached 2,311, with 50 patients who have recovered while 96 have died.

Behold God’s glory  and seek His mercy.

Pause and pray, people.