Davao City – “The flavors were enticing. We will have chocolates, caramel, and fruit flavors. And the smoke…we will play with it.”
Thus explained Kyle Esposado, a 15-year old senior high school student in Davao City, as to the reasons what triggered him to vape. Kyle said he didn’t exactly know what vape is until one night, his brother came home with a gadget on hand. It was a gadget that immediately piqued his curiosity, prompting him and another brother to ask what it was. The eldest brother, who was gainfully employed at that time, said it was a vape and proceeded to demonstrate how it worked. They were amused and, with the eldest brother’s encouragement, both Kyle and his other brother tried it. They loved the flavor and the tricks that came with billowing smoke. Since then, the brothers will vape an average of three times a week, every night, at the secrecy of their bedroom.
The practice continued for a year until the eldest brother, who provides for the flavored juices, lost his job.
Kyle, who didn’t smoke cigarettes, said that the loss of his brother’s job forced them to stop vaping. It was a bittersweet experience for him.
“While I am sad that my brother lost his job, I was also happy because I didn’t have to vape anymore. I realized, based on what my aunties told me, that vaping is not safe and will give me illnesses I would rather not have,” he said. “It’s difficult to say ‘no’ when your brothers or friends ask you to join them in vaping. There’s an immense pressure and you succumb to it.”
In the recent launch of Parents Against Vapes in Davao City, Kyle shared his experience to close to 300 parents, youth, health professionals and educators. Parents Against Vapes is a coalition of parents in Region 11 who have committed to protect the Filipino youth against the ill-effects of electronic cigarettes. The coalition is led by Atty. Santos Torreña of the Federation of Parent-Teachers Association in Region 11, which is composed of more than 120 schools. Atty. Torreña was the former city legal chief of Davao City and was responsible for crafting the city’s anti-smoking policy upon the directive of then city mayor Rodrigo Duterte. The Parents Against Vapes is joined by HealthJustice Philippines (HJ), JCI Lakambini Davao and the Philippine Society of Private Midwife Clinic Owners, Inc. (PSPMCO) in its commitment to prevent e-cigarettes from addicting the Filipino youth.
Call for the government
“Our organizations commend President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his administration for recognizing the ill-effects of e-cigarettes among Filipino youth and the urgent need for bold action to prevent e-cigarettes from addicting a generation of Filipino children. We laud the government for recognizing the need to ban the use of e-cigarettes in public places,” the group said in a statement released to the media.
However, the organizations also recognized that much has to be done to protect the youth. In the forum held during the launch, the organizations called on the government to ban all flavors of e-cigarettes; restrict accessibility by ensuring that e-cigarettes are not promoted, advertised and sponsored; and ban the sale of e-cigarettes in areas easily accessible to children and youth such as malls, convenience stores, and online shops.
“We also encourage all Local Government Units to come up with an ordinance supporting the strict regulation of e-cigarettes,” they said, noting that LGUs play a critical role in ensuring that youth are protected against e-cigarettes.
“There is no time to waste as youth e-cigarette use continues to grow worse. At present, one out of five users of e-cigarettes in the Philippines is 10-19 years old,” Atty. Jacky Sarita, managing director of HealthJustice, underscored. Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, an international non-government organization working to reduce tobacco use and its deadly consequences, also noted that in the Philippines and around the world, the evidence is clear that flavored products, like bubble gum, mango graham, guyabano cooler, and milky caramel have fueled youth e-cigarette use. The accessibility and rampant use of e-cigarettes in public places are likewise attracting youth.
This affirms Kyle’s experience.
“E-cigarettes are addicting and endangering millions of kids – and parents, educators and health care providers across the country are struggling to cope,” Imelda Gocotano, president of PSPMCO, said.
Honeylet Avancena supports e-cigarette regulation
Guest Speaker Hon. Honeylet Avancena during the Parents Against Vape
Posted by Cathy Cruz on Tuesday, December 17, 2019
In the same event where the Parents Against Vapes was launched, Ms. Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña affirmed her support to parents.
“As a mother and public health advocate, I also feel strongly against the concerns raised against e-cigarettes and smoking. Vaping is not the less harmful alternative to regular smoking,” Ms. Avanceña said. She also said that like other parents, she initially wasn’t aware of how vapes look like and the availability of many flavors used to entice children and youth.
She narrated that when she was told about the flavors that go with e-cigarettes, she was alarmed and got worried that her 15-year old daughter may have been exposed to it. She also said she immediately talked to her daughter who assured her she will not get into it.
Her engagement with the parents and other advocates helped her understand why children and youth are lured into using e-cigarettes. And what can parents do to prevent a generation of Filipinos getting addicted to it.
“I enjoin everyone to join this advocacy from within the family, let us all keep in mind that parents and guardians have the moral responsibility to protect their children from elements and activities that will compromise their well-being, smoking included,” she said. “Smoking itself is a vice that should be completely overcome.”
As part of her commitment to be part of the advocacy, Ms. Avanceña led the signing of the parents’ manifesto that appeals to the government to ban flavors, ban sale in establishments where youth mostly go, restrict accessibility and encourage LGUs to come up with an ordinance that will strictly regulate vapes.
“(Let’s) continue to work together to achieve a healthier and brighter future for our nation,” Ms. Avanceña said.# (Mardy Halcon, Media and Communication Coordinator, Philippines Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids)