The Philippines House of Representatives has urged the Department of Health (DOH) to promote vaping as a healthier alternative to smoking.

According to a 2015 executive summary by the World Health Organisation, 42 percent of men and 6 percent of women in the country used tobacco.

The resolution cites landmark studies by Public Health England and Cancer Research UK, noting that smoking prevalence has reduced since vaping was introduced in the UK.

While the resolution is not legally-binding, it’s an important first step towards adopting a harm-reduction approach to tobacco-control.

Joey Dulay, president of the Philippine E-Cigarette Industry Association, said:

“By unanimously adopting the resolution, the House of Representatives is sending a strong message to the DOH to abandon its misguided belief that ‘quit or die’ are smokers’ only choices and instead follow the lead of the United Kingdom and other countries that have adopted harm reduction as part of their tobacco control strategies.”

Since assuming office in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte has taken a hard-line approach to both tobacco and e-cigarettes. In 2017, he signed an executive order banning smoking and vaping in public spaces.

Meanwhile, the president’s ‘war on drugs’ has attracted widespread condemnation from the international community. Human rights groups estimate that as many as 13,000 people have been killed by police after being suspected of using or selling drugs.