EcoWaste Coalition Welcomes Effort to Curb Toluene Sniffing Addiction

Quezon City. A non-government organization pursuing a chemical safety agenda has commended the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for its latest move to curb the use of toluene-based contact cement (TBCC) or what many simply call as “rugby.”

PDEA on Thursday announced a ban on the over-the-counter sale of TBCC that does not contain at least five percent mustard oil, an additive that will make “rugby” unattractive to sniffing addicts because of the obnoxious smell.

“As a group dedicated to public health and safety, we find PDEA’s decision laudable as added mustard oil will make toluene-based inhalants unappealing to users,” retired nurse Elsie Brandes-De Veyra of the EcoWaste Coalition stated.

“It pains us to see our young people, especially out-of-school children and youth, getting addicted to harmful substances like TBCC because of easy access to this toxic adhesive,” she lamented.

“We know that repeated exposure to toluene can lead to irreversible damage to the brain and the central nervous system,” De Veyra said.

“To further eliminate sniffing as a health and social issue, we further hope that the government through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will issue a chemical control order for toluene and promote toluene-free consumer adhesives that will be less injurious if misused,” she suggested.

Toluene, a colorless, flammable and toxic liquid obtained from coal tar or petroleum, is included in Table II of the 1988 UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

“Considering its extremely damaging effect to the health of child and youth users, we urge the government to consider scaling up the campaign versus TBCC with industry, civil society and community support,” De Veyra appealed.

According to the Dangerous Drugs Board, TBCC is one of the top three substances among drug abusers. A significant number of users belong to the youth group, majority of whom are children.

“We also hope that the government, working hand in hand with the churches, charities and civic groups, will extend compassionate assistance to TBCC-users to help them get rid of the toxic habit, providing them with counseling, rehabilitation, educational and skills-building opportunities,” the EcoWaste Coalition stated.