Health Advocates Decry Closed Door Hearing on E-cigarettes Hearing
07 Sep 2020
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Philippines calls out the “closed door” decision of the House of Representatives to ban media coverage on the substitute bill on the regulation of the use, sale and distribution of electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs).
“We are calling for complete transparency regarding the actions to be undertaken for the bill involving e-cigarettes and HTPs. These products are not safe. Keep in mind that less harm does not mean zero harm,” said ASH Philippines Executive Director and Pulmonologist Dr. Maricar Limpin.
“This gives the impression of possible tobacco industry interference meant to weaken legislative control. If they are confident that their products are completely safe and effective smoking cessation devices. Otherwise we wonder why ban media coverage? Why keep the public in the dark?” added Limpin.
Under the rules of the 18th Congress, committee meetings and public hearings should be “open to the public subject to reasonable regulations in the interest of security, order and the safety of persons in attendance.”
The exclusion of media coverage on House committee and plenary sessions also circumvents policy of transparency being endorsed by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
“Public health interest must preside over commercial interests. Currently there is no independent evidence-based research that will prove the health claims of the tobacco industry over these products, but if we recall the epidemic of vaping related illnesses and EVALI reported by the CDC, then what we know is that the dangers of these products are very real,” said ASH Philippines President Roberto Del Rosario.
Last year, the Department of Health recorded the first case of e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury (EVALI) from a 16-year-old girl from Cebu which sparked the call for regulation of the novel tobacco products in the Philippines.