As delegates from around the world gather in Panama for the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP10) to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, health advocates and former government officials called on the Philippines to take a strong stand against e-cigarettes and vape products, citing the alarming rise among Filipino youth.
In a joint statement, the former senior government officials urged the Philippine delegation to the global conference to “take the lead in pushing for, supporting, and promoting policies preventing the uptake of all recreational tobacco and nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, to protect present and future generations from the devastating harms of tobacco use and nicotine addiction.”
It was signed by former health secretaries Jaime Tan, Carmencita Reodica, Manuel Dayrit, Esperanza Cabral, and Paulyn Ubial, as well as undersecretaries Alexander Padilla, Susan Mercado, and Madeline Valera. Former education chief Armin Luistro and undersecretary Alberto Muyot also signed the appeal.
Vaping has gained popularity among teenagers and young adults in the Philippines. A 2019 survey revealed that 14 percent, or one in every seven Filipino youth aged 13 to 15, were already using e-cigarettes.
The Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act, which allows individuals as young as 18 years old to purchase vaping products, lapsed into law in 2022. Health and child rights organizations warned it would make e-cigarettes more accessible to young people.
According to a 2023 survey, the Philippines was also among the countries that deteriorated in their efforts to protect their health policies from interference of the tobacco industry.
The Philippine delegation at the last global conference on tobacco control drew criticism for including government officials with a history of promoting e-cigarettes as effective and less harmful.
Hopefully this time, they advance the interests of the common good instead of those large corporations that are out to make a profit at the expense of public health.*