– We are dealing with products that clearly have health risks despite industry and their supporters saying the risks are less than smoking and that they are an effective device to help smokers quit;
– These health risks are still being documented and studied;
– Some of these products have caused deaths and severe illnesses in various forms.
What this means is that we must really assess if this is a product that should be outright banned, as has been already done in some countries like Australia, Singapore, Brazil, etc., or strictly regulated, which was the direction I was taking as Chairperson of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
Meanwhile, the President’s recent pronouncement to ban e-cigarettes is an assertion of the authority of the State to restrict the use of any consumer product that endangers public health. I agree that when the people’s health is at risk, public interest must always take precedence over any business or commercial interest.
As a backgrounder, it is important to note that the e-cigarette industry was previously given the opportunity to work and thresh out issues with the government. The Department of Health (DOH) issued Administrative Order (AO) 2019-0007 last August precisely to lay down regulations for e-cigarette products. Unfortunately, members of the industry chose to question the AO in court instead of welcoming government regulation.
In the meantime, the very first case of electronic cigarette- or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI) was reported in the country last weekend, involving a 16-year-old girl.
No issue can be resolved if members of the industry would insist on shunning any form of regulation by constantly suing the DOH and Food and Drugs Administration (FDA)! With this attitude,a ban is really in order.