Vaping not a safe alternative to smoking, Sorsogon health authority says

SORSOGON CITY, Sorsogon (PIA) — The usage of e-cigarettes has significantly increased, and their users are getting younger over the years.

These devices have evolved into an overwhelming variety of vape pens, tank systems, “mods,” and other similar products, which are being widely marketed and sold even to minors.

Eljan, a 17-year-old resident of Sorsogon City, began smoking when he was only nine years old. After six years of being a cigarette smoker, he decided to switch to e-cigarettes or vaping instead.

“The variety of flavors available hooked me into vaping. With options like mint, grapes, strawberry, bubble gum, and many more, I found it more appealing than traditional cigarettes. Additionally, vaping is more affordable than smoking traditional cigarettes,” he said.

Eljan shared that he spends a portion of his allowance on buying e-cigarettes.

“One vape juice that gives me 12,000 puffs costs me P290 and lasts for almost a month. Five sticks of traditional cigarettes in one day cost me P50.

The P50 per day multiplied by 30 days in a month amounts to P1,500, which is much higher than the cost of vaping,” he said.

Vapes have evolved into an overwhelming variety of designs with flavor options like mint, grapes, strawberry, bubble gum, and many more, which are being widely marketed and sold even to minors. (Photo: Marivic Besmonte/PIA Sorsogon)

Despite the law prohibiting the sale of vapes and cigarettes to minors, they are still widely accessible and available.

Last February, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) organized an orientation seminar for Vape Law (RA11900) called Responsible Vaping Industry Players in the province of Sorsogon.

The main focus of the seminar was to highlight Section 12 of the Vape Law, which prohibits the sale of vape products with flavor descriptors that target minors.

This includes references to fruits, candy brands, desserts, or cartoon characters that may make the product more attractive to those under 18 years old.

The attendees, who were owners and representatives of business establishments that sell vape around the province of Sorsogon, were also educated about the dangers of using tobacco and e-cigarettes (vaping), which can put individuals’ health at high risk.

It was emphasized that tobacco smoking is a proven risk factor for many respiratory infections and can increase the severity of respiratory diseases.

Casiguran Municipal Health Officer Juan Carlos Caindec expressed concern over the increasing use of e-cigarettes, especially among young people.

“For many reasons, e-cigarettes should not be promoted as a safe alternative to smoking,” Caindec said during the Media Training and Fellowship Program conducted by Probe Media Foundation Inc.

He pointed out that e-cigarettes contain harmful substances such as diacetyl, which is connected to lung disease; acrolein, which can cause lung injury and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; and aldehydes, which are known to cause lung and heart disease.

Therefore, e-cigarettes should not be encouraged as a safe alternative to smoking for various reasons, Caindec said.

Eljan thinks smoking and vaping are personal choices. He admitted that his social circle influenced him to start smoking.

He acknowledges the negative impact of smoking on one’s health but claims that it has yet to affect him personally.

“As of now, I feel smoking does not affect my health. I know its negative impact on one’s health, and for now, it has no effect on me yet,” he said.

However, he has been smoking for eight years now, which could have already affected his health without him realizing it.

According to Caindec, there is no such thing as a safe amount of smoking or a “safer” cigarette.

If someone starts smoking at a young age, they will be at a higher risk of health complications later in life.

Lung cancer rates generally begin to increase around the age of 40 and peak after the age of 70.

Health experts say that every year, more and more youths become addicted to using e-cigarette. The results of the 2019 Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) revealed that there is a higher prevalence of use of e-cigarettes than the use of any other tobacco products among Filipino students aged 13-15 years. (Contributed photo)

While warning labels have made 43.7 percent of current smokers consider quitting, many switch to other forms of tobacco or electronic nicotine delivery systems.

The rising popularity of e-cigarettes or vaping among youths is a serious public health concern.

“The battery-operated devices come in many forms and can look like conventional cigarettes, pens or even sleek tech gadgets. The aerosol-like vapor that users inhale and exhale poses health risks to both users and non-users,” said Caindec.

Kix Gacias, an advocate for Parents Against Vape, praised Sorsogon for being one of the first localities to adopt a no-smoking policy and ordinance.

However, “it needs to be strictly implemented to prevent children from accessing harmful products,” Gacias said.

Quitting vaping tips from the Department of Health are at this link: (BAR-PIA 5/Sorsogon)

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