Recently, following Philippines Civil Service Commission chairperson Alicia Dela Rosa-Bala demanding a total ban on vaping products, Konstantinos Farsalinos called for the Pinoy administration to take a more relaxed and enlightened approach to harm reduction. He pointed out: “Here in the Philippines and Malaysia, they created the industry by themselves, the local people, they are not imported products, they are products made locally. Many entrepreneurs got engaged into that, and that’s how it grew here.”
Ubial spoke to the press about extending the current Executive Order 26 so that it covers vaping and vaping products. Forgetting all about her nation being an independent country, she ignored the information coming out from Europe and focused on citing an out of date position from America’s Food and Drug Administration: “In terms of implementation, we will still study if we should include it in the IRR, but right now there's an advisory from the Food and Drug Administration that [vaping] is harmful to your health.”
It’s a shameful position, and one grounded in ignorance: “People think, well, err, there are very few studies about the effect of vaping on second-hand smoke, err, it’s more on the individual effect. But, err, how can we actually convince [vapers] that it’s still harmful to people around them?”
“What we’re trying to actually do, whether it’s vaping or it’s actual cigarettes, we’re trying to get into the country, through the WHO Department of Health, the gadget that will detect, like, in this particular room, the nicotine. Even if nobody is smoking here, but people who used the room before we came in smoked, then that gadget can detect it. So, we don’t have that technology as of now, but we’re trying to get in that, err, technology. And that will help us in really enforcing this Executive Order – 100% smoke free!”
“Even if they only use vape, and there is ambient nicotine or vapours or particles – the gadget will detect them. They don’t even have to prove that it’s harmful to other people, but there’s nicotine even if they are using e-cigarettes. That’s already a proof that, err, it’s not 100% smoke free and that’s a violation of the Executive Order.”
If one wanted to pick holes in her statement, there is the reference to second-hand smoke. Firstly, electronic cigarettes do not emit any smoke, so there is no second-hand smoke. There are plenty of studies demonstrating that air quality is not impacted to any level injurious to health, most recently in one of our articles last week.
Then there is the question of this marvellous handheld nicotine detector (that she claims is currently available to buy in England – it isn’t). Nicotine detection tends to be through sampling of saliva or urine, or taking swabs from surfaces – there is no gadget on the market that will do what she claims. There is one that has been in development since 2014, and is still only at the trial stage.
Unkind observers will say that it is distinctly possible the World Health Organisation are placing undue pressure on the country and are linking action they would like to see taken against vaping with the delivery of grants and other support. But then this wouldn’t be as unkind as denying smokers access to a product that is 95% safer than smoking.