Groups call for accountability as gov’t officials attend opening of tobacco facility

April 18, 2024

Groups on Thursday are wondering why State figures and government officials are present and openly endorsing heated tobacco products at the inauguration of a vape manufacturing facility in Tanauan, Batangas on April 15.

“First of all, it is deceitful to call this vape manufacturing facility a “smoke-free” facility. Vapes and heated tobacco products still produce smoke and contain toxic and addictive substances that when inhaled can damage the lungs and the brain,” said Ms. Rebie Relator, President of Parents Against Vape.

“This attempt of the industry to make their products appear safer should not be condoned by the government,” she said.

Parents Against Vape, Child Rights Network, and the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development are calling for accountability for the blatant show of government support to a ‘deceitful’ industry.

“For government officials to support this heated tobacco product hub is a disservice to public health and the right of our children to grow up in a healthy environment,” Ms. Relator said.

She said that tobacco companies are continuously deceiving the public with disinformation about electronic smoking devices like vapes and heated tobacco products being ‘safer alternatives.’

“We should take a closer look at these electronic smoking devices because there are growing documented cases of vaping-related illnesses and injuries affecting even young children. Instead of coddling the industry, our government should be protecting the health of our children,” she added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Rom Dongeto, Convenor of the Child Rights Network and Executive Director of the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development, shared that people in government are not supposed to bow down to the interests of the tobacco industry.

“We would like to remind our government officials of their sworn duty to protect the interests of the Filipino public. This includes abiding by the law, which prohibits unnecessary interactions between the government and the tobacco industry,” Mr. Dongeto said.

“This manufacturing facility for electronic smoking devices is not only a public health disaster waiting to unfold. It is reckless to support this amid a growing vape epidemic that is primarily affecting the Filipino children and youth,” he added.

According to the 2019 Global Youth Tobacco Survey, 1 in 7 Filipino students aged 13 to 15 already use e-cigarettes.

The Department of Health’s first recorded case of e-cigarette or vape-associated lung injury or EVALI in the Philippines occurred in November 2019, which involved a 16-year-old girl from the Visayas region who used both vapes and traditional cigarettes.

Last March, the Philippine National Police reported that it had recorded reprimanding 8,000 minors using vapes and e-cigs.