“Kapag masama, ito ay talagang nakakasama. Walang less or more harmful.”
Concerned groups, parents, and the city government are working together to address the alarming rise in cases of young individuals in Baguio using vape, an electronic device for smoking that uses vapor or juice in place of tobacco.
In a study presented by the City Health Services Office on May 31, results showed overall vape use in the city increased in 2022 compared to 2019 when a similar baseline study was conducted, increasing from 1.5 percent in 2019 to 5.1 percent in 2022.
What is worse, Dr. Donabel Tubera-Panes said, is that most of these vape users are from the 15 to 24 years old, followed by 25 to 34 and 45 to 54 age groups.
“There is ‘vapedemic’ or vape use epidemic in the city. It is an epidemic because the number of users increased, and not just in the city but all over the country,” Panes said during a May 31 media briefing at City Hall.
She said the CHSO presented the study results to the City School Board, which paved the way for the passage of a resolution in the city council urging the schools to confiscate vape in campuses and call concerned parents as an intervention.
Panes said what the figures show is ironic considering the passage of the Vape Law, where use of vape is supposed to be regulated and should particularly discourage its use especially among youth.
“What was the use of the Vape law? It was not protective at all, it even promoted it. Even the title is Vape Law. It is supposed to be Anti-Vape Law. And so we have joined with a senator and called on the Department of Trade and Industry and the Food and Drug Administration to work with us on how to fix this because there were more vapers after the law was passed,” she said.
Atty. Ronald Perez, president of the Parent-Teacher Association in the Cordillera, said the group is alarmed by the data as it shows schools have already been infiltrated by vape and the youth are being targeted by vape manufacturers by making it attractive and easy to conceal, without the youngsters knowing of its harmful effects to their health.
“Smoking already has many derivatives. It has evolved into use of electronic devices, like the vape. These can be used in secret, because we cannot recognize it per se as vape equipment unless and until we are exposed or actually knowledgeable about it. It having infiltrated schools makes our goal of stopping the use of vape even more significant,” Perez said.
He added this month, through the Parents Against Vape national organization, they will intensify awareness by conducting an information dissemination and orientation in the city on the ill-effects of vaping and smoking as a whole, with teachers and parents of Pines City National High School as a pilot area.
They will also work on creating the first localized Parents Against Vape in Baguio City which as the name implies aims to advocate against vaping.
Cecille Agpawa, Baguio City Smoke-Free Task Force member, also corrected the notion that vape is a better alternative to smoking, as advertised by its makers.
“Ang vape kasi ina-advertise nila na parang if you want to quit, vape. They are sending in the message it is better than smoking. This is not true, because the vape also contains nicotine which is the same with that of cigarette. So whatever illnesses that you can get from smoking, it’s the same illnesses you will get with vaping,” Agpawa said.
She said worse, especially to the youth, there are 15,000 different juices in vape, packaged and sold looking like harmless gadgets or something that would fit young adults.
“They are really targeting the younger generation. Pero kung ang isang bagay ay harmful, harmful po ito. Walang less harmful or more harmful,”Agpawa said.
Panes said the city is now planning ways to empower schools and its respective PTAs so they would know how to detect vape because of its deceiving feature.
“Most of it looks like a flash drive. Akala ng parent it is only a flash drive, only to know na umuusok ito; and they (students) can do it inside the classroom. So it is really alarming, its appearance is deceiving and has a smell that the teacher would think it is perfume. So we are also teaching the teachers and parents to detect it to stop its use,” Panes said, as she reminded parents they need to be vigilant about their children since they are not supposed to be able purchase vape products in the city, as not one vape manufacturer has been granted to sell the same in Baguio, but they can purchase it online. – Hanna C. Lacsamana