July 17, 2024

Despite awareness of the dangers of using e-cigarettes or “vaping”, why does it continue to gain popularity and its use rising especially among the youth?

According to a former cigarette smoker, e-cigarettes continue to gain popularity because the vapor contains additives that are able to remove the conventional taste and smell of tobacco and replaced with the preferred aroma of the user.

As opposed to the conventional cigarettes, users have a variety of flavors to choose from unlike the cigarette which has a bitter after taste and the peculiar smell of tobacco, according to former smoker Darryl Kim Longid, head of the Public Order and Safety Division.

He said having these options made vaping look glamorous, cheap, convenient, and “discreet”, especially to the youth who want to hide from their parents the fact that they are smoking because of the sweet scent emitted by the flavored vapor of the vape.

Vaping is also cheaper. Compared to the cigarettes that can generate an ave-rage of 500 puffs per ream, vape can ge-nerate 10,000 puffs per unit.

Since the passage of the Tobacco Regulation Act, the price of conventional cigarette increased 10-fold and its sale hea-vily regulated. On the other hand, vape is easily accessible and can be bought online, as there is no law yet regulating its sale.

The only regulation on the sale, use, and advertising is through ordinan-ces implemented by  local government units. But not all LGUs prohibit the sale or use of vape, which is why it is widely accessible said Ralph Degolacion, managing director of Health Justice PH – a public health think tank that aims to bridge the gap between health and law to empower Filipinos to make healthy choices.

Priority advocacies of the group are tobacco taxation, smoke-free environment, e-cigarette regulation, tobacco industry monitoring, and non-communicable disease prevention and control.

Degolacion disputed the perception that e-cigarettes are a better alternative to conventional cigarettes or tobacco.

He said the medical community has already presented various studies showing that e-cigarettes can be as harmful or more harmful than cigarettes.

While Congress is deliberating on proposals regulating the use and sale of e-cigarettes, Health Justice PH is also advocating the ban on the flavored vapor to deter its use, and banning of advertisements about vape.

Smoke-Free Baguio Task Force head coordinator Donnabel Panes reiterated the adverse effects of vaping to an individual’s health.

She said conventional smoking slowly kills a person, while vaping can lead to instant death through a condition called “chemical pneumonitis”.

“Sa smoking parang killing me softly. Sa vaping pwedeng the next day, you’re gone,” Panes said, stressing that the vapors from e-cigarettes are highly toxic.

Chemical pneumonitis is an e-cigarette use-associated lung injury (Evali). 

According to the American Lung Association, there is no single test for Evali as symptoms are similar to other respiratory diseases. These include shortness of breath, fever and chills, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, rapid heartrate and chest pain.

It said a doctor will evaluate a patient’s history of e-cigarette use and other vaping devices, and may take an X-ray to see if there are hazy spots on a patient’s lungs that indicate tissue damage.

In response to the growing use of vape, Smoke Free Baguio has collaborated with youth organizations, peer groups, educational institutions, Department of Education, and the Commission on Higher Education to reach out to the youth.

These efforts concentrate not only on enforcement but also on educating the youth and their peers regarding smoking and vaping. – Rimaliza A. Opiña