Vapes, e-cigarettes increase risk of COVID-19 infection: doctors

Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 15 2021 05:09 PM

Vape

MANILA - The use of vapes and e-cigarettes increases the risk of catching COVID-19, doctors said Wednesday, as they oppose a bill that grants the youth easier access to these products.

Speaking to senators, Department of Health (DOH) Director of Health Promotions and Communication Service Dr. Beverly Ong said vaping causes inflammation.

"During this time of the pandemic, it is crucial to understand vape may cause inflammation and enhance the adherence of the infectious organism," she said.

Philippine College of Chest Physicians Chairperson Dr. Glynna Ong- Cabrera said the use of e-cigarettes allows the novel coronavirus to enter the body more easily.

"Normally kasi, for a person to vape, you have to remove your face shield, your face mask, and you touch things, and you touch your vape and put it in your mouth. So yung pagiging infectious niya, mataas because you have a high risk of getting the virus."

She added that this also makes the body more receptive to the virus.

“In the lungs, we have receptors. The receptors.. which is supposedly the gateway for COVID virus to enter. When a person is smoking vape, it increases the receptors."

"Kung baga sa bahay, dumadami ang pintuan na pwedeng pasukan. So, kung dumadami ang entry points, tumataas ang viral load. There are more chances to get infected, to get worse,” she explained.

Another doctor said vaping or using e-cigarettes by COVID-infected persons can help spread the virus.

"Binibigyan mo ng vehicle ang COVID,” said Philippine Pediatric Society-Tobacco Control Advocacy Group chairman Dr. Rizalina Gonzales.

"Those toxic chemicals are irritating and challenging our airway defense. Natatalo sila."

The DOH, Department of Education (DepEd), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and various youth groups urged the Senate to reconsider Senate Bill 2239, which allows the sale of vape products to persons as young as 18 years old. The measure is still being deliberated on by senators.

Health groups already raised alarm on this last year, noting that it goes against an executive order signed by President Rodrigo Duterte mandating that these products should only be accessible to 21 years old and above.

"Napakahirap isipin na magiging trade product siya na pwedeng ibenta kahit saan… It may undermine the health risks associated with such. Therefore it is crucial to categorize the aformentioned products as health products because they do have an effect in the health,” FDA Director General Eric Domingo said.

"We in DepEd are aware of how the pending bills can undermine our already existing efforts to protect our learners from the harms of the use of these products," said Dr. Maria Corazon Dumlao, Chief Health Officer of DepEd’s School Health Division of the Bureau of Learner Support Services.

"We teach how the part of the brain that is responsible for rational decisions does not fully develop until one is in their mid-twenties. If there will be any legislative move to amend such provisions, it shall be to decrease the access to harmful substances," she added.

Youth groups questioned the motive behind the filing of the bill.

"Should we really relax these policies when there is already stricter policy enforced?" said Lawrence Deligero of the Association of Philippine Medical Colleges- Student Network.

“Such a dangerous bill would only serve the interest of tobacco and e-cigarette industries, given that (it) will be treated as regular and non- harmful consumer products,” Janneloise Baylon of Union of Progressive Students said.

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