France validates vaping; trashing transparency

History only remembers most what you did last. – The Insider.

We can’t go on denying and rejecting what the whole world has come to  discover, acknowledge, and embrace as an acceptable, benign, and even highly promising smoking-cessation tool.

And Ped Xing won’t stop in its advocacy until policymakers and implementers are sufficiently shamed into reversing their adverse position on a matter of immense public interest;

Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III lauded the House committee on ways and means chaired by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda for its “swift action” on the bill hikin taxes on so-called sin products, which cleared the way to its speedy approval in plenary after going through just “a single panel hearing”.

Got that? A done deal in one miserable sitting!

It was a breath-taking, unabashed, unbridled legislative stampeding.

Forty-three members of the House ways and means committee voted  Tuesday last week for House Bill 1026, which seeks to increase excise taxes on beer, spirits and wines.

When the measure was opened for plenary debates on Wednesday, voila, a bill in substitution of HB 1026 was introduced (very nicely and quietly, thank you!) expanding its scope to include e-cigarettes such as heated tobacco and vapor (vaping) products.

Did the “single panel hearing” consider various vital and universal findings affirming the benefits of  smoking-cessation devices before putting the proposal to a vote?  

Consider the latest French findings on electronic cigarettes or vaping:

Another scientific research, this time by the French, confirmed earlier findings that adult smokers using e-cigs/vapes or electronic nicotine delivery systems were more likely to succeed in quitting tobacco smoking.

This recent study conducted by Ramchandar Gomanjee, a researcher from the Pierre Louis Institute of Epidemiology and Public Health in France and published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, involved over 5,000 regular smokers and 2,025 former smokers for an average of two years.

It indicated that the number of combustible cigarettes used by regular smokers, or those who smoked daily, dropped by more than 4 percent within the two-year period.

Similarly, 67 percent more e-cig users were found to be more likely to quit cigarettes completely, compared to non-users.

The study also showed that newer vaping products considerably reduced the risk of relapsing to the use of combustible cigarettes, as these offered a better way of delivering nicotine into the smoker’s bloodstream, providing a sensation similar to the tobacco products.

According to Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, ENDS have undergone significant technological changes throughout the years to help cigarette users successfully transition to the use of less harmful smoking alternatives.

"Prior to technological advancements made around 2013, e-cigarette devices were difficult to use and only effective for the most dedicated of would-be quitters," said Conley.

Devices developed prior to 2013, he claimed, no longer bear any resemblance to current ENDS technology, "so using ancient data is not particularly helpful to understanding whether vaping products can help smokers quit today".

An earlier study conducted by the University College London, revealed that smokers are three times more likely to succeed in quitting smoking with the use of vapes, compared to those using nicotine replacement therapy.

The research involved close to 19,000 smokers in England over a 12-year period from 2006 to 2018, making it one of the largest to examine the success rates of all the commonly used methods people use to stop smoking.

The study found that smokers who used e-ciges were 95 percent more likely to quit smoking than those trying without, while those that used prescribed NRT such as nicotine gums, patches, and lozenges were only 34 percent more likely to do so.

Moreover, those buying NRT from shops were no more likely to succeed that those trying to quit without any help at all.

***

“Highly unlikely, inconsistent, misleading, unwarranted.”

That’ s Finance Undersecretary and chief economist Gil Beltran  roundly debunking a local petroleum giant’s claim  that the increase in fuel excise taxes under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion  law led to a decline in its earnings for the first half of the year, given the improved income performance reported during the same period by its competitors

Beltran was virtually saying that the oil giant was not being truthful.

“No dice, man. Try again. You think we’re stupid?” would be a more apt reaction from a notional local Mafia loan shark dunning a deadbeat street client.

But Beltran is a fine financial enforcer steeped in elegant, persuasive technocrat-speak.

“We looked at their financials, and it seems highly unlikely. It is misleading for Petron to blame TRAIN for their decrease in sales,” he said in a  statement released by the Department of Finance  

An online dictionary provides the following to define misleading: “ambiguous, deceiving, delusive, distorted, equivocal, uncertain specious, etc.

These are, quite decidedly, big, strong, powerful but unpleasant words to describe the position taken or statements made by a supposedly reputable company with a tremendous, strategic role in the country’s economic stability and national security.

Recall that oil refiner released a statement on August 8 declaring that its net income in the first half plunged by 72 percent from the same period last year.

It claimed that price increases resulting from TRAIN’s implementation led to a decrease in its domestic fuel sales.

But Beltran said  the DoF looked at recently released reports from other major players, including Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp, which also has a refinery.

“Shell actually reported that despite lower profits in the first half of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018, they saw higher retail volume growth across all business segments in the second quarter, which is the opposite of the Petron story,” Beltran pointed out in the DoF statement.

“In addition, Petron’s message that higher prices led to a decline in sales is inconsistent with their history,” he said.

Tsk-tsk-tsk. Why would the oil giant contradict its own record?

The DoF found that, despite the peak of gasoline and diesel retail prices during the first quarter of 2012, Petron revenues still increased by 17 percent or P10.6 billion compared to the previous year. In the first half of 2012, when the oil price was highest, Petron’s income grew by 43 percent.

“Perhaps Petron should look inward to understand the true cause,” Beltran said. (Put another way,” it’s your tracks, not our TRAIN, stupid!”

The oil giant had also reported that is indirect expenses swelled by 78 percent in the first quarter of this year, suggesting lower efficiency resulting in the income decrease.

“Blaming TRAIN for their income drop is unwarranted. Taking into account much higher indirect expenses, it appears the reason for Petron’s performance can be attributed to internal issues or perhaps weakening market share because they refuse to adjust their prices, and not higher excise tax. Remember, Shell is in the same business, and their sales volumes actually grew,” the Finance deputy chief explained.

TRAIN implemented a gradual increase of oil excise taxes by up to P6 per liter over a period of three years, with lower rates for “essential products” such as diesel, kerosene, and LPG.

Behold God’s glory and seek His mercy.

Pause and pray, people