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First Philippines Summit Gathers To Discuss Smokers Harm Reduction

First Philippines Summit Gathers To Discuss Smokers Harm Reduction


On May 28, vapers from across the globe gathered in Quezon City, Philippines at the 1st Summit for Harm Reduction to discuss ways for smokers attempting to quit cigarettes using safer alternatives. Representatives from numerous countries were in attendance, arguing for comprehensive legislation based on evidence that shows that vapor is considerably safer than combustible cigarettes.

Attendees and presenters argued for a more comprehensive view from the Philippine government and others globally to support pro-vapor legislation. Two speakers that made a significant impact were Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos and Nancy Sutthoff.  The duo's presentations were covered in detail by the Manila Standard and The Standard, respectively.

Dr. Farsalinos is an international researcher on the effects of vapor. He presented two studies which showed that smokers with asthma and hypertension experienced improved lung function and lower blood pressure after switching to vapor. In them, Italian researchers looked at 18 smokers with mild to moderate asthma.

Farsalinos has a long history of devising and executing studies that buck media narratives prevalent in Western countries. In total, he’s published over 60 papers examining vapor products since 2011. In April, we covered research where he surveyed Greek vapers and found that a majority are ex-smokers. This commitment to advocacy for vapor from a scientific perspective makes him an important ally for vapers all around the world.

Another speaker that caught international attention was New Zealand activist and advocate Nancy Sutthoff, who drew from her country’s push to promote vapor in seeking a more widespread acceptance of harm reduction as governing philosophy for health in a country, urging Filipino vapers to do the same.

“Three years ago, New Zealand was basically in the same position as the Philippines in terms of the proposed regulatory framework and legislation on e-cigarettes,” says Sutthoff, a former smoker who switched to vaping.

Suttoff’s country has long been the flagship for progressive vapor reform, a topic that was on full display at the summit. In March 2016, the country reversed its official stance on vapor, legalized vapor products, and was followed by a government-funded initiative to become a smoke-free country by 2025 - Kiwi legislators are wise enough to recognize the difference between vapor and smoke. Official support for vaping became part of the Smokefree 2025 initiative, which was announced in October 2017.

Continuing, Suttoff said that authorities should “protect the health of the public with science and knowledge” and pointed to advocacy groups in her country that worked together to push for legislation and awareness of scientific evidence.  

“What vaping advocacy groups in New Zealand did was we got together, learned as much as we possibly could about the regulatory and legislative environment and collected the latest scientific evidence on e-cigarettes,” says Suthoff.

Both Farsalinos and Suthoff advocate, from different aspects of the vapor world, a need for people to adopt a harm reduction viewpoint in order to improve overall health, with Farsalinos looking at the scientific side and Suthoff the advocacy and political aspect. These two different steps showcase a path forward for countries to reduce the amount of disease caused by cigarettes.