DOH: 'Barely any evidence' to prove e-cigarettes safe

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday, August 25, said that there is “barely any evidence” to prove that electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) do not cause harm to users.

“Contrary to the claim regarding the effectiveness of e-cigarette as a smoking cessation aid, there is barely any evidence-based researches to prove so,” the DOH said.

The DOH made the statement in response lawmakers who proposed, through House Resolution (HR) 1885, that the DOH promote the use of e-cigarettes as part of its “harm reduction measures” against smoking.

HR 1885 urged the DOH to promote the use of e-cigarettes as part of its tobacco control strategy.

“Despite all the regulations and strict policies enforced by governments, people still find a way to smoke. E-cigarettes offer an alternative…. Public health experts predict that smokers who switch to combustion-free products can substantially reduce smoking and the risk of developing smoking related diseases and eventually overall population harm,” the resolution said.

HR 1885 was sponsored by  Quezon 4th District Representative Angelina Tan, House health committee chairperson; and  Iloilo 4th District Representative Ferjenel Biron, chair of the House trade and industry committee.

No evidence: The health department said a series of long-term and peer-reviewed studies that deal with the incidence, distribution, and control of diseases are needed to conclude that e-cigarettes are an effective alternative to smoking.

The DOH said that with "the lack of conclusive data regarding the long-term effects of using e-cigarettes, its health risks cannot be ignored."

Based on the August 2016 World Health Organization (WHO) report on e-cigarettes or Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems and Electronic Non-Nicotine Delivery Systems, scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of these devices as a smoking cessation aid "is scant and of low certainty, making it difficult to draw credible inferences."

The report also said while it is likely e-cigarettes are “less toxic than cigarette smoke,” they are “unlikely to be harmless." It added that long-term use is also expected to increase the risks of pulmonary diseases, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other diseases related to smoking.

The DOH said until there is conclusive data on the safety of e-cigarettes, “regulatory measures should aim at reducing exposure to these products” as a precautionary measure. (READ: Can PH regulate its e-cigarette industry?)

For the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to authorize e-cigarettes as health products, it must follow requirements on listing ingredients, reporting both harmful and potentially harmful substances, and submission of research documents proving the use of e-cigarettes as an effective alternative to smoking.

The DOH said no e-cigarette company or product has applied for a license to operate or certificate of product registration with the FDA. –

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at