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Duterte’s claim on nicotine in vapes needs context

Not all vapes have nicotine, contrary to a statement by President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a Nov. 19 media interview at Malacañang, Duterte said:

Mabuti pa ang sigarilyo kasi (Cigarettes are better because) they confirmed (the) toxic thing that causes harm to people. Nakalagay diyan ‘yung nicotine (The presence of nicotine is indicated there). Itong (This) vaping, it contains nicotine and other chemicals that we do not know. It has not passed the FDA.

According to the Department of Health and Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA),

E-cigarettes or vapes are combinations of non-tobacco-containing e-liquids or refills and an electronic delivery device. These systems produce aerosol, mist, or vapor that users inhale by mimicking the act of smoking. Current literature shows that composite contents of and emissions from these devices are not completely without harm.

E-cigarettes are classified into electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems (ENNDS), meaning not all e-cigarettes contain nicotine.

The FDA released April 10 an advisory saying e-cigarettes are not a proven nicotine replacement therapy. It also reiterated the World Health Organization’s Sept. 19, 2008 statement that no scientific evidence confirms e-cigarettes’ safety and efficacy.

However, Dr. Michael Joseph Blaha of Johns Hopkins Medicine says while vaping is still not safe, e-cigarettes “expose (users) to fewer toxic chemicals than traditional cigarettes.”

Inhalation toxicologist Ilona Jaspers agrees that “there isn’t really (...) any consumer product that if used according to its instructions is more toxic than cigarettes.”

A July 14 administrative order issued by the DOH requires e-cigarette manufacturers, distributors and sellers to secure a license from the FDA.

As of writing, no ENDS or ENNDS products have been approved. (JRC, EEM)


Blaha, M. J. (2018, April 7). 5 Vaping Facts You Need to Know. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved from

Electronic Cigarette. (2013, November 29). Retrieved from

Marketers of electronic cigarettes should halt unproved therapy claims. (2008, September 19). Retrieved from


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