Bongbong Marcos is urged to seize the opportunity to save Filipino smokers and sign the Vape Bill

Respected medical and scientific experts have called on President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. to seize a major opportunity to save 16 million Filipino smokers from the harmful impact of combustible cigarettes by signing the Vape Bill that will provide less harmful alternatives.

“The potential benefits of saving, or at the very least improving the quality of life and improving the long-term outcomes of smokers, with this bill once enacted, is a great opportunity that we couldn’t afford. afford to lose,” said a group of doctors. practitioners, healthcare professionals, academics, researchers and experts in various scientific fields said in a letter to the President through Executive Secretary Victor D. Rodriguez on July 8, 2022.

“We believe that the passage of the Vape Bill will be a historic milestone that will be part of your administration’s legacy. Once enacted, it will strengthen concerted efforts to end the tobacco epidemic once and for all and help to save countless lives.

Signatories to the letter include physicians who have treated patients for various smoking-related illnesses for many years as well as members of the scientific community, including Dr. Jose Dante Dator, former executive director of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute; Dr. Rafael Castillo, former president of the Philippine Heart Association and the Asia Pacific Society of Hypertension; Dr. Arleen Reyes, former president of the Dental Association of the Philippines; Dr. Romeo Luna Jr., president of the San Juan Medical Center Staff Association; Dr. Telesforo Gana, former president of the Philippine Urological Association; Dr. Fernando Fernandez, former president of the Philippine College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons; Dr. Howard Enriquez, past president of the Philippine Society of Otorhinolaryngology; and Dr. Alvin Laxamana, past president of the Dental Association of the Philippines.

Dr. Rafael R. Castillo, former president of the Philippine Heart Association and the Asia Pacific Society of Hypertension

The list also includes Dr. Assunta Mendoza, former chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology at Manila Medical Center; Dr. Christian Luna, Medical Director of Tulay Lingap Ni Padre Pio Surgicenter; harm reduction advocate Dr. Lorenzo Mata Jr., president of Quit for Good; Dr. Carlo Nofuente from the Calamba Physicians Hospital; Dr. Benjamin Abela Jr.; Dr. Erick de Castro of Cabuyao First Hospital and Medical Center; Dr. Christine Therese Santos, ophthalmologist; Dr. John Hector Pagdanganan of Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital; Dr. Benlor Buendia of Angeles Medical Center; Dr. Erwin Enrique of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Medical Center; Dr. Mark Santiago of Mother Theresa of Calcutta Medical Center and urologist and researcher Dr. Rogelio Varela Jr, along with other medical professionals, professors and researchers, chemical engineers, professional trainers, physicists and disease management specialists ‘environment.

The Vape Bill is a close version of Senate Bill No. 2239 or the “Vaped Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act” and Bill No. 9007 or of the “Non-Combustible Nicotine Delivery Systems Regulation Act”.

“We believe this could help mitigate serious health risks and potentially save the lives of over 16 million current Filipino smokers who are at very high risk of becoming ill and dying due to smoking-related complications. “, said the signatories.

All have spoken out against smoking, and many of them are strong advocates and supporters of anti-smoking campaigns and any initiative that could help smoking patients quit smoking.

“It is indisputable that smoking kills. The reality today in the Philippines is that approximately 110,000 Filipinos die each year from smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer, strokes, and heart attacks, to name a few. That’s about 300 Filipinos dying every day from smoking-related illnesses. These are deaths that could have been prevented, if only they had been given viable alternatives,” they said.

“We’re talking about alternatives to smoking like vaping products that could, at the very least, help mitigate the risk of serious smoking-related complications,” they added.

“Mr. Speaker, we all agree that we must do everything we can to save the lives of as many smokers as possible. Passing the Vaping Bill is an important starting point and a definite step in the right direction to drastically reduce the number of smokers and resulting deaths. Hopefully, this could help achieve our ultimate goal of getting smokers to quit for good,” the letter reads.

Medical and scientific experts have said that vaping is a viable alternative and a pragmatic solution to convince smokers to quit. “While there is no debate that vaping is not completely safe and still contains harmful chemicals, it is also indisputable that it is far less harmful than continued smoking, as the have concluded numerous public scientific data and studies around the world. Vape products also contain far fewer harmful chemicals than cigarettes,” they said.

“The bottom line is that vaping can help smokers quit smoking and, in doing so, reduce the number of deaths and illnesses caused by smoking,” reads the letter.

READ: Smoking in PH: Health, incomes go up in smoke

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