First vaping-associated lung injury case reported in PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 15)— The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday confirmed the first case of electronic cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI) in the country.

The Health Department announced the case— recorded in Visayas— is a 16-year-old girl who had been using e-cigarettes for six months.

Officials added the patient had been consuming the product "concurrently with cigarettes"— which the DOH tagged as "dual use."

"The patient, who was admitted last October 21, initially presented with sudden-onset severe shortness of breath, required oxygen supplementation and ICU admission," the department said in its statement.

The DOH has been pushing for a total ban on e-cigarettes, saying there is still not enough hard evidence to support the health claims of the e-cigarette industry that vapes do not cause harmful effects on the human health.

In July of this year, the Department of Health issued an administrative order (AO), regulating e-cigarettes. This means that vaping products were classified as “health or consumer products,” directly placing them under the FDA jurisdiction.

This also entails that the FDA needs to test them first to ascertain their safety and quality before they are allowed to be sold and distributed in the market.

Under the order, individuals are also banned from using e-cigarettes in public, and local government units may apprehend violators.

However, the implementation is put on hold as there is a preliminary injunction issued by the courts of Pasig and Manila, requiring the FDA to stop enforcing the said AO, according to the DOH.

Rolando Enrique Domingo, Health undersecretary and officer in charge FDA director general, said that they will comply with the order of the courts. But he expressed hopes for the matter to be urgently resolved, as he warned that “every delay in regulating electronic cigarettes is a step back for public health. The resolution of these legal issues is in everybody’s interest.”

“All e-cigarette users should seek immediate medical help, and ask their doctors for ways to quit these harmful products. No e-cigarette product should be accessible to young children and adolescents, who are uniquely susceptible to the harms of e-cigarettes and nicotine. I urge non-users not to even try e-cigarettes at all," Domingo said.

DOH defines e-cigarette as a product “made of plastic and metal device that heat a liquid nicotine solution (e-juice) in a disposable cartridge. It creates a tiny light on the tip even glows like a real cigarette and produces a vapor that stimulates the act of smoking.”

CNN Philippines' Catherine Modesto and Alyssa Rola contributed to this report.