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Let’s have intelligence rule out over hysteria and save lives

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A man vapes as people protest against a New York City Council vote on legislation to ban flavoured e-cigarettes outside City Hall in New York City on November 26. EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/GETTY IMAGES/AFP

Let’s have intelligence rule out over hysteria and save lives

On November 29, 2017, we went through a hysterical reaction to a notice by Sanofi that Dengvaxia MAY cause people who had not suffered from dengue before to have a worse reaction to a mosquito bite if they’d been inoculated with Dengvaxia, than if they hadn’t.

But if they had had a previous infection, then Dengvaxia could protect them.

Dengvaxia was immediately banned, on December 1.

It was reported over the next few months that 14 children had died due to Dengvaxia.

Subsequently, more intelligent investigation found that nobody had died due to Dengvaxia.

In America about two months ago, it was reported that 33 (now 42) people died from using e-cigarettes.

A New York Times article published on Septemver 11 this year noted that “Sitting in the Oval Office with the government’s top health officials, President Trump acknowledged that there was a vaping problem and said: ‘We can’t allow people to get sick. And we can’t have our kids be so affected.’”

He initially called for a ban on vaping, then did the more sensible thing and called for a meeting with the industry.

Subsequently, more intelligent investigation found that none of them had died due to vaping nicotine, but from the illegal addition of THC (a marijuana oil) laced with Vitamin E acetate into the nicotine pods.

It was those additives that killed them.

A few weeks ago, a young girl in the Philippines was reported to have been admitted to an intensive care unit from vaping – for a short six months.

Hysterical reaction followed and vaping was banned.

Subsequently, more intelligent investigation found that she smoked cigarettes too, so the cause was brought into question, with smoking the more likely cause.

The patient has since been discharged from the hospital.

The young woman is not dead.

In America, about 480,000 people die every year from smoking, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention – none from vaping legally produced nicotine.

At least 20,000 Filipinos (many would be unreported) die every year from smoking.

Smokers should quit but they can’t, because the addiction is too strong – so they die.

But it has been found that they will switch to vaping if it’s financially feasible to do so.

Independent, comprehensive research over the past nine years in the UK, which is the most advanced country in understanding the difference between burning and heating tobacco, has found that heating is 95 per cent safer.

Did you get that – 95 per cent less harmful.

This research was done by experts with no relation to any tobacco company or with any instilled biases. They are medical experts in various fields.

There have been no reported deaths due to vaping in England over the past nine years, but about 220 die daily, or more than 70,000 annually, due to smoking.

So it makes sense to convince and encourage smokers to switch to a product that will harm them less.

Maybe vaping is not as safe as claimed. Maybe … maybe there’ll be long-term negative effects. Maybe.

We won’t know until a long time has passed.

But even if those maybes turn out to be valid, heating tobacco does do less harm than burning it. It doesn’t matter how much less, it’s less.

So it’s good to note that the Philippine Department of Health is developing an executive order that will allow vaping in a controlled manner, with products that are properly registered with the Food and Drug Administration. Those registered products will have nicotine pods that can’t be tampered with.

Let’s hope smokers get the message and make a shift to save their lives.

Where there is a valid concern is in young people starting vaping. That can’t be allowed.

Laws can be imposed, similar to regulations on alcohol consumption, but they need to be enforced, which hardly happens in the Philippines.

The solution I’d suggest is to convince young people that it isn’t cool to vape.

Get Manny Pacquiao and other celebrities the youth admire to mount a wide campaign that it is “Cool to be clean”.

Let’s get smokers to vape, not ban it – and get kids not to start. Let’s save lives. And let’s all have a Merry Christmas.

Peter Wallace/THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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