By EVA CASALJAY
October 18, 2019
The Department of Health (DoH) has warned the public that electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), commonly known as “vapes,” and heated tobacco products pose the same threats as traditional cigarettes.
Citing the recent epidemic on vaping-related illnesses in the United States, which led to 26 deaths, Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd on Thursday said e-cigarettes were not alternatives for smokers wishing to quit.
“Electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products are sold in the market as alternatives for smokers trying to wean themselves off tobacco. Some studies claim that they contain fewer toxic chemicals and are less harmful alternatives to cigarettes. We do not support their claim of reduced harm. These products endanger the health of both users and non-users, and are clearly not meant for children,” Duque stated.
The World Health Organization has introduced the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) 10 code U07.0, an international tool for classifying and monitoring diseases.
With ICD 10 code U07.0, health facilities are required to immediately report and use proper codes for acutely ill patients who have used e-cigarettes in the last 90 days, with no other plausible causes for illness. The data gathered will be used by the Health department as guidance for policy making.
“All health and allied health professionals are urged to be vigilant in identifying risks during routine clinic evaluations by taking the history of tobacco use and use of e-cigarettes or vapes in all patients. DoH also calls on the medical community, parents and teachers to help address the widespread use of electronic cigarettes, particularly among the youth and young adults,” Duque said.
Rizalina Gonzales, council chairman of the Philippine Pediatric Society, cited The Global Youth Tobacco Survey of 2015, saying, “42 percent of youth know e-cigarettes and 11.2 percent have tried using it.”
But she noted the number could have risen because of the popularity of the products.
Susan Pineda Mercado, special assistant to the president on Global Health Initiatives, called on the public to be part of a global movement to keep children away from smoking and protect the health of young people.
She said attacks from companies producing e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products were leading to weak regulation.
The DoH said two cases had been filed against the agency and the Food and Drug Administration for being “out of bounds” in regulating nicotine products.
It added that registration for distribution, manufacture and selling of these products were on hold because of the cases.
“This is a temporary setback, but it doesn’t stop us from spreading the facts surrounding the use of such a harmful product. We are the protector of public health and it is our view that we cannot let this go on and on… This is our bounded duty,” Duque said.
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