The Philippines’ health secretary has discouraged the public from using e-cigarettes as he doesn’t believe they’re a ‘harmless’ alternative to smoking.
Francisco Duque III has told people not to be deceived by claims that e-cigarettes are safe tobacco alternatives, saying there was “no sound evidence” to support such claims.
“I’m aware of the claims that e-cigarettes contain fewer toxic chemicals and are therefore good alternatives to smoking.
“There is no scientific proof yet that can say e-cigarettes are completely harmless. For the DOH (Department of Health), there is absolutely no acceptable level of harm especially when Filipino lives are put to risk.”
This follows a nationwide smoking ban in the southeast Asian country, which was issued in 2017 by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and outlaws smoking in all public places.
The Philippines has a very high smoking rate. Tobacco Atlas reported that there are 1,132 cigarettes smoked per person per year, compared to only 441 smoked per person per year in neighbouring Malaysia.
To further counter this high smoking rate, Duque has vowed to increase tobacco tax and taxes for other ‘sin products,’ which would include e-cigarettes.
“The DOH will continue to work toward progressive policies that uphold the health and well-being of the Filipino people,” he said.