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October 7th, 2018:

Groups debate impact of e-cigarettes on public health

Opposing groups continue to debate the government stance on electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes and its impact on public health.

One group insists that e-cigarettes are a viable option to stopping conventional smoking, while the other group claims this alternative also has the same hazardous effects as tobacco.

Local vaping groups maintained the government should trek the path of the United Kingdom with its relaxed regulations on e-cigarettes, insisting that these have reduced the harms associated with tobacco use and help more people quit smoking.

However, Emer Rojas, president of the New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP), remains steadfast in its lobbying for government to prohibit e-cigarettes in the country until its safety is fully determined by expert studies.

Rojas noted that the Department of Health (DOH) had already issued a statement that the reduced harm of e-cigarettes is “unsubstantiated and remain unproven.”

On the other hand, Joey Dulay, president of the Philippine E-Cigarette Industry Association (PECIA), said at a recent forum in Quezon City that the Philippines will remain a backwater country in the area of tobacco harm reduction if the DOH continues its supposed “ill-informed and myopic position” on e-cigarettes.

“It’s high time that the Department of Health take its cue from the UK and other countries that have acknowledged the growing body of scientific evidence supporting e-cigarettes and tobacco harm reduction,” Dulay said.

Published recently by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, the report titled “E-cigarettes” concluded that e-cigarettes should not be treated in the same way as conventional cigarettes, noting that e-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than conventional cigarettes.

Tool for quitting

In its Tobacco Control Plan 2017-2022, the UK government clearly stated its intention to support consumers in stopping smoking and adopting the use of less harmful nicotine products, particularly e-cigarettes.

However, the parliamentary report pointed out that, “e-cigarettes… are too often being overlooked as a stop smoking tool by the NHS (National Health Service, the UK public healthcare system). Regulations should be relaxed relating to e-cigarettes’ licensing, prescribing and advertising of their health benefits. Their level of taxation and use in public places must be reconsidered.”

According to the report, around 2.9 million people in the UK are currently using e-cigarettes, with an estimated 470,000 using e-cigarettes as a stop smoking tool and tens of thousands successfully quitting smoking each year as a result.

The report called on the UK government to consider risk-based regulation to allow more freedom to advertise e-cigarettes as the relatively less harmful option, and provide financial incentives, in the form of lower levels of taxation, for smokers to switch from conventional cigarettes to less harmful alternatives such as e-cigarettes.

WHO FCTC COP8 concludes with new strategy to accelerate tobacco control efforts

WHO FCTC COP8 concludes with new strategy to accelerate tobacco control efforts and stronger transparency measures to counter tobacco industry interference

7 OCTOBER 2018 | GENEVA – Press release

The Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) yesterday closed its eighth session (COP8) after adopting a Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) outlining a new action plan to scale up the global tobacco control agenda over the next few years.

The MTSF, also known as the Global Strategy to Accelerate Tobacco Control, aims to strengthen implementation of the FCTC, with a roadmap to guide the work of the Parties, the Convention Secretariat and other stakeholders with regards to tobacco control from 2019 to 2025.

“The adoption of this strategy marks a key milestone in strengthening the FCTC,” said Dr. Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, head of the WHO FCTC Secretariat. “This strategy provides a very clear path forward, with priorities and objectives to reinforce government policies and accelerate global action for more effective implementation of the tobacco control treaty.”

The six-day COP8 gathering brought together over 1,200 participants comprising delegations from 148 Parties to the global tobacco control treaty and included representatives of United Nations agencies, other intergovernmental organizations and civil society.

“COP8 has made substantial progress towards comprehensive tobacco control by the Parties to the treaty and will result in stronger protections against tobacco-related diseases and premature deaths,” said Ms. Preeti Sudan, COP8 President and Secretary of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

In another significant action to ensure FCTC progress, Delegates at COP8 adopted today a series of measures to maximize transparency to protect FCTC related sessions and proceedings from the intrusion of tobacco industry representatives and interests.

New strategies were adopted for preventing further interference by tobacco industry in public health policies, in line with Article 5.3 of the FCTC, which requires Parties to the treaty to protect national public health policies “from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.”

Conference participants noted progress in reducing tobacco use through new legislation and regulations for limiting access and promotion of tobacco products. Since it came into force in 2005, the Convention has resulted in national strategies and legislation that have introduced health warning on packages of tobacco and comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

At the COP8 gathering, Parties also addressed the need for tobacco control efforts to integrate strategies to combat the destructive impacts of tobacco on the environment and sustainable development.

“The link between tobacco control and environmental protection and their integral link with the Sustainable Development Goals, has been emphasized, clearly indicating the critical need for Parties to apply tobacco control efforts in development strategies,” said Ms. Sudan.

The COP is the only existing global intergovernmental meeting exclusively devoted to tobacco control. It is a platform for policy formulation and the adoption of implementation mechanisms by the Parties to the Convention.

In her parting words to the delegations at COP8, Dr. da Costa e Silva urged Parties to the FCTC to press forward with their fight against the global tobacco epidemic.

“More than ever, we need to stay the course and strengthen our commitment to ensure that FCTC efforts to protect and promote public health and sustainable development are not hijacked by the tobacco industry,” Dr. Costa e Silva said. “We must yield no ground to the tobacco industry.

The recent entry into force on 25 September of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade on Tobacco Products marked another key milestone in global tobacco control efforts. To date, the Protocol has 48 Parties. The first session of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP1) to the Protocol will be held on 8-10 October, following the close of COP8.