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The accused is innocent

December 21, 2021 Dennis F. Fetalino 477 views

Dennis FetalinoIsn’t it ghoulish to rip a person’s chest open and take out a heart? Or a bypass operation? Ether is the same thing. You have ether, been around for centuries, it wasn’t used. Not till 1846. It was discovered in 1543… and before that, everybody was being operated on while they were awake. Surgeons were cutting them open while they were awake. – You Don’t Know Jack

When scientific findings are backed up by decades of thorough research and extensive field studies and continue to be validated, vetted by experts and institutions, the people win.

Anchoring public policy on such sound principles is, therefore, the way to go.

Consider a gaseous state of matter.

The mere sight of smoke evokes a general state of concern, if not panic, because of what is feared to follow next – a fiery affair.

Most living, breathing things choke on smoke.

Alas, such notorious reputation has, quite erroneously, dragged other benign substances into the gallery of rogue chemicals.

Caught in a fiery trap, nicotine is the chief collateral damage in cigarette smoking.

But the accused is an innocent party.

Various scientific studies have confirmed that smoke-free nicotine products are significantly less harmful than traditional cigs.

Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians, for instance, have stated that e-cigs are likely to be at least 95-percent less harmful to humans than combustible tobacco.

Experts said these smoke-free alternatives also offer the same pleasure as cigarettes with less risk of toxic chemicals generated by lit tobacco.

A February 2019 clinical trial by the United Kingdom’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.

“There have been many decades of research on the health effects of cigarette smoking, and we have known since at least the 1970s that the primary cause of the cancers, heart and lung diseases is the repeated inhalation of smoke,” said Prof. David Sweanor, chairman of the advisory board of the Center for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa.

Sweanor is a Canadian legal expert who believes that tobacco harm reduction is one of the greatest public health breakthroughs in history. He has been at the forefront of global efforts to reduce cigarette smoking for nearly four decades.

“Our bodies are simply not designed to inhale smoke. We see similar disease patterns in those who cook food over open fires with poor ventilation and in firefighters exposed long-term to smoke inhalation,” he said

The Canadian academic said it was the tar from combustion, and not nicotine, that contained carcinogens and toxicants.

Thus, he stressed the benefits of smoke-free nicotine products such as electronic cigarettes, heat-not-burn tobacco products and oral products like Sweden’s snus as less harmful alternatives to combustible cigarettes, which cause 20,000 deaths a day globally.

“The nicotine itself is not the problem. The global health catastrophe we face is due to the way it’s delivered. In short, for anyone wishing to tackle the global toll of 20,000 lives a day lost due to cigarette smoking, we need to remember just four words: ‘It’s the smoke, stupid,’” said Sweanor.

He said these findings make smoke-free nicotine pro­ducts the best way out of smoking today.

Voting 19-2-2, the Senate has approved on final reading a proposed measure seeking to regulate vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine products.

Senate Bill 2239 or Vaporized Nicotine Products Regulation Act proposes to restrict access to vaporized nicotine products or vapes to 18 years old and above.

It lowers the minimum age for e-cig use from 21 as provided under the excise tax law.

The bill seeks to require retailers to verify the age of buyers by presenting any valid ID indicating the age and birth date.

If enacted into law, the Department of Health and the Department of Social Welfare and Development “shall provide appropriate intervention programs for minors caught selling, buying, or using vapes”.

But the DoH remains vehemently opposed to the vape legislation.

It has registered strong opposition to what it called the “blatant disregard of public health” in the recently approved SB 2239.

The bill is retrogressive and contains several provisions that contradict public health goals and international standards and undermines the country’s progress in tobacco control, according to a DoH statement.

The DoH maintains that vape products are harmful and not risk-free and should be regulated as health products and that the approval of SB 2239 puts the Filipino youth at risk, citing studies and surveys.

The House of Representatives had approved last May 25 its version, House Bill 9007 or the proposed Non-Combustible Nicotine Delivery Systems Regulation Act, which recognizes THR as a public health strategy.

HB 9007, a consolidation of 23 bills authored by 154 representatives, seeks to establish a clear and effective law and regulation, including product standards to govern vaporized nicotine products which are considered non-combustible alternatives to cigarettes.

It expressly declares as a policy of the State “to consider harm reduction measures as a public health strategy by ensuring that non-combustible alternatives to cigarettes are properly regulated”.

SB 2239 and HB 9007 aim to fill the gap in local regulation amid the proliferation of sale and use of HTPs and vaping products among Filipino consumers.

As of 2020, more than 80 countries, including the Philippines, had no specific laws yet regulating vaporized nicotine products.

Advocacy, consumer, and industry groups which vigorously supported the measure described the Senate move as a victory for public health and marks the beginning of the end of smoking in the country.

The groups, which have launched an active campaign on social media to gather massive support for SB 2239, would provide 17 million Filipino smokers with better alternatives to combustible cigarettes.

They commended the Senate for upholding the rights and welfare of the 17 million Filipino smokers.

What has been widely ripped open here is a fire exit for people trapped in a smoldering house.

Given an opportunity for a scathe-free escape, wouldn’t anyone make the switch?

Behold God’s glory and seek His mercy.

Pause, ponder, act, and pray, people.