The Philippine College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (PCOMS), one of the biggest groups of dental professionals in the country, said that it respects the stance of some members who urged smokers to switch to non-combustible alternatives.

Dr. Fernando Fernandez, a member and former president of the group, spoke during the Scientific Conversations on Tobacco Harm Reduction that if patients cannot quit, they should shift to a “non-combustible nicotine delivery system.”

“We are convincing our patients to stop smoking. But if our patients cannot quit, we advise them to at least consider shifting to a non-combustible nicotine delivery system, rather than continue smoking cigarettes and see our patients die of oral cancer,” Fernandez said, referring to smoke-free tobacco harm reduction devices such as electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products.

Fernandez’s statement was mentioned in a recent Senate hearing on vaping and heated tobacco regulations.

He also called on his fellow dentists to promote awareness on oral cancer and educate smoking patients about tobacco harm reduction that will prevent or reduce the risk of oral cancer.

Oral cancer is the 11th most common form of cancer in the Philippines.

In a statement, PCOMS said that while the views and opinions of the members were made in their personal capacities, the group allows members access to various forms of “academic sharing and discourse based solely on scientific evidence.”

“The views and opinions expressed are its members’ own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PCOMS and the Philippine Dental Association,” the organization added.