Tobacco harm reduction advocates hold 5th Manila summit; calls for gov’t action to support tobacco alternatives to reduce cigarette smokers

Tobacco harm reduction advocates hold 5th Manila summit; calls for gov’t action to support tobacco alternatives to reduce cigarette smokers

MANILA — A broad coalition of tobacco harm reduction advocates has appealed to governments all over Asia including the Philippines to support the use of alternative modalities and instruments that can help in reducing the harms of combustible and unsafe tobacco products globally as provided in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

During the 5th Asia Harm Reduction Forum that was held Friday at the Manila Hotel, the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates ( CAPHRA) issued a declaration calling on all governments to adopt science-based regulatory frameworks on the manufacture, importation, sale, and consumption of devices and ingredients that are safer alternatives to tobacco such as vapes and other electronic devices that generate a nicotine-containing vapor without burning tobacco.

The forum which was organized by the Harm Reduction Alliance of the Philippines (HARAP) and The Vapers Philippines (VapersPh) was held as the Philippine government started crafting the Implementing Rules and Regulation for the Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act, also known as the Vape Law which has recently lapsed into law.

CAPHRA said that over-restrictive government policies on the use of vapes and other similar products including e-cigarettes are a contradiction to the intent and objective of the FCTC Treaty.

“We, the consumers of safer nicotine products and, those adults who currently smoke, ought
to be the principal beneficiaries of enlightened, science-based regulatory frameworks
allowing us access to these life-saving technologies. Instead, we continue to be
marginalized, ignored, denigrated, and attacked, our choices restricted, and our rights denied
and our lives and health are negatively impacted by the continuing failure of WHO and its
funders to follow its own mandates or to consider the science,” CAPHRA said in their manifesto called “The Manila Declaration-2022.”

In the Philippines, local tobacco harm reduction advocate Peter Dator of the group The Vapers Philippines said that while their movement support laws that would set the quality and standard of vape products and e-cigarettes, access to these devices should not be too prohibitive that users would be forced to revert to smoking cigarettes.

“It is very ironic because while the government is taking all the necessary steps to reduce the health risks caused by cigarette smoking, they are also throwing all the stumbling blocks to discourage people to access safer alternatives such as vapes and e-cigarettes. We really hope that regulatory policies on IRR of the new Vape Law would be crafted to encourage people to adopt safer alternatives to stop smoking,” Dator said.

Dator said government policymakers, especially those tasked to craft the IRR of the Vape Law, should defer to well-documented studies proving that increasing cigarette taxes did not do much to reduce the number of Filipinos who are tobacco smokers. On the other hand, there are many solid testimonies which prove that vapes and other similar instruments have contributed a lot to the reduction of cigarette consumption among Filipinos.

In their manifesto, CAPHRA said that the World Health Organization-FCTC and its country delegates should follow the science and evidence around tobacco harm reduction and recognize the people’s rights to access alternative products that can help them kick the habit of smoking cigarettes.

CAPHRA maintained that Vaping is dramatically safer than cigarettes and has helped millions quit smoking.

“Vaping is not smoking. It uses electronic devices to generate a nicotine-containing
vapor without burning tobacco. Governments charged with protecting public health
should welcome that, not discourage it,” the coalition said in their The Manila Declaration-2022 manifesto.

CAPHRA is a broad alliance of Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates in the Asian region which seeks to educate, advocate and represent the right of adult alternative nicotine consumers to access and use products that reduce harm from tobacco use.

The 5th Asia Harm Reduction Forum was attended by delegates from various local and international organizations like HARAP), Vapers Ph and END Cigarette Smoke Thailand. (ai/mtvn)

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