By Chito Chavez
Contrary to the claims of some anti-tobacco use advocates, various groups insisted that smokers switching to electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or e-cigs) experienced improved lung function and lower blood pressure.
The various groups issued the statement as they recently converged at the Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos presented two studies at the first summit on harm reduction organized by The Vapers Philippines in Quezon City.
A research fellow at the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Athens, Greece, and at the Department of Pharmacy, University of Patras, Greece, and at the Greek National School of Public Health, Farsalinos has been conducting research on e-cigarettes as principal investigator since 2011.
However, anti-tobacco use group New Vois Association of the Philippine (NVAP) warned the proliferation of unregistered vaping products has threatened the gains of President Duterte’s smoke-free policy citing the gadgets contain toxic chemicals like formaldehyde used to embalm dead bodies based on the recent study at Berkley University.
With this, the New Vois Association of the Philippine (NVAP) warned the local government units (LGUs) to initiate measures relative to this threat to sustain the government’s anti-smoking initiatives.
As of 2018, Farsalinos has published more than 60 studies and articles in international peer-reviewed scientific journals about smoking, tobacco harm reduction, and e-cigarettes.
A two-year study by Italian researchers looked at 18 smokers with mild to moderate asthma.
All smokers switched to e-cigarettes but two eventually relapsed and resorted in dual use of combustible cigarettes and e-cigarettes.
At the start of the study (prior to switch to e-cigarettes), researchers assessed the subjects’ respiratory symptoms, lung function (through spirometry), airway hyper-responsiveness (level of irritation and constriction), asthma control, asthma exacerbations (asthma attacks) and tobacco consumption.
Measurements recorded at baseline prior to switching were compared with those at the follow-up visits at 6, 12, and 24 months.
Significant and stable objective improvements in respiratory symptoms, lung function, airway hyper-responsiveness, asthma control, and tobacco consumption were observed in the 16 e-cigarette users with asthma, but no significant changes in exacerbation rates were reported.
Similar findings were found in the dual users.
Based on the study results, the researchers concluded that e-cigarette use improves asthma outcomes and its beneficial effects may persist in the long-term benefits.
They also concluded that, in asthma patients who smoke, switching to e-cigarettes can reverse harm from tobacco smoking.
A one-year study by Greek and Italian researchers compared the blood pressure (BP) and heart rate of 300 smokers who switched to e-cigarettes.
There were three types of study participants: quitters (completely quit smoking), reducers (50 percent or more reduction in smoking consumption) and failures (less than 50 percent or no reduction in smoking consumption).
“The study showed that smokers with elevated BP who reduce or quit smoking by using e-cigarettes may lower their systolic blood pressure in the long term, and this reduction is particularly apparent in quitters,” Farsalinos said.
“By showing blood pressure reductions when reducing or stopping smoking for a sufficient period of time, this study adds to the current evidence that e-cigarette use appears to be a less harmful alternative to tobacco smoking,” he added.
“The 1st Summit on Harm Reduction aims to promote meaningful dialogue and awareness on the potential of e-cigarettes to reduce the harms caused by tobacco and save lives,” said Peter Paul Dator, board of trustees member and president of The Vapers Philippines.
Established in August 2016, The Vapers Philippines is a group of e-cigarette consumers committed to educate the Filipino public about the potential of e-cigarettes in reducing the harms caused by regular tobacco cigarettes.
The group currently has more than 1,200 members from all over the Philippines.
“Congratulations to The Vapers Philippines for organizing the 1st Summit on Harm Reduction, which provides a venue for scientists to present accurate scientific information on e-cigarettes to policymakers and legislators, as well as for stakeholders to have frank and informed discussions on tobacco harm reduction,” Farsalinos said,.
City administrator Aldrin Cuña, speaking on behalf of Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, gave an overview of the city government’s current regulations on e-cigarettes. Cuña welcomed continuing dialogue with all stakeholders.
In her remarks, Nancy Sutthoff, Asia Pacific regional coordinator of the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organizations (INNCO), lauded efforts to promote local stakeholder discussion on e-cigarettes and tobacco harm reduction.
The Vapers Philippines is a member of INNCO, the biggest international organization of e-cigarette consumer organizations in the world.