Leading doctors, scientists to Marcos: Give Vape Bill a chance to make the difference

A group of medical and scientific experts urged President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to give the vape bill a chance to make a difference in the lives of 16 million Filipino smokers, many of whom will die if not given access to safer alternatives.

“The bottom line is that vaping can help smokers stop smoking and in the process reduce the number of deaths and sickness due to smoking,” a group of medical practitioners, health-care professionals, academicians, researchers, and experts in various scientific fields said in a letter addressed to the President through Executive Secretary Victor D. Rodriguez on July 8, 2022.

The signatories called for the enactment of the vape bill as the Philippines’s first comprehensive law to regulate vapor products such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.

The vape bill is a reconciled version of Senate Bill No. 2239 or the “Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act” and House Bill No. 9007 or the “Non-Combustible Nicotine Delivery Systems Regulation Act.”

“We believe that it could help mitigate the serious health risks and possibly save the lives of more than 16 million current Filipino smokers who are at very high risk from getting sick and dying due to smoking-related complications,” the signatories said in the letter.

Signatories include medical practitioners and health-care professionals who have been treating patients for various smoking-related diseases for many years as well as members of the scientific community, including Dr. Jose Dante Dator, former executive director of National Kidney and Transplant Institute; Dr. Rafael Castillo, past president of Philippine Heart Association and Asia Pacific Society of Hypertension; Dr. Arleen Reyes, past president of Philippine Dental Association; Dr. Romeo Luna Jr., president of San Juan Medical Center Staff Association; Dr. Telesforo Gana, past president of Philippine Urological Association; Dr. Fernando Fernandez, past president of Philippine College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons; Dr. Howard Enriquez, past president of Philippine Society of Otolaryngology; and Dr. Alvin Laxamana, past president of Philippine Dental Association.

“It is indisputable that smoking kills.  The reality today in the Philippines is that there are approximately 110,000 Filipinos that die every year from smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer, stroke, and heart attack to name a few.  That is roughly 300 Filipinos dying every day from smoking-related diseases. These are deaths that may have been prevented, if only they were given viable alternatives,” they said.

Also among the signatories are Dr. Assunta Mendoza, past chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology of Manila Medical Center; Dr. Christian Luna, medical director of Tulay Lingap Ni Padre Pio Surgicenter; harm reduction advocate Dr. Lorenzo Mata Jr., president of Quit for Good; Dr. Carlo Nofuente of Calamba Doctors’ Hospital; Dr. Benjamin Abela Jr.; Dr. Erick de Castro of First Cabuyao Hospital and Medical Center; Dr. Christine Therese Santos, an ophthalmologist; Dr. John Hector Pagdanganan of Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital; Dr. Benlor Buendia of Angeles Medical Center; Dr. Erwin Enrique of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Medical Center; Dr. Mark Santiago of Mother Theresa of Calcutta Medical Center and urologist and research investigator Dr. Rogelio Varela Jr.