Kuala Lumpur, 8 September 2019 — Recent news this past week that a fifth death has been reported in the United States, hundreds coming down with severe lung illness and health officials there recommending that people stop vaping, should be treated as strong evidence for Malaysian authorities to accept that the use of e-cigarettes is harmful to proper lung function. The government should consider adoption of strong regulations similar to traditional cigarettes, or even banning e-cigarettes altogether from the Malaysian market.”
Commenting on the development, Galen Centre Chief Executive Azrul Mohd Khalib said “It is incredibly significant that both the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and the US Food and Drug Administration are looking into hundreds of cases of severe pulmonary disease across 33 states which may have been caused by vaping.”
“In the past, there were arguments supporting the view that there was a healthier way to smoke a cigarette. Today, we hear similar voices saying that smoking e-cigarettes, vaping or using heat-not-burn devices are healthier and safer. Both are misleading and cynical. The fact is that both have different degrees of health risks and consequences.”
“The health outcomes of smoking traditional cigarettes are well-documented and proven. However, the effects of vaping and other forms of e-cigarettes are still being studied and understood.”
“What we do know so far is that using e-cigarettes can cause lung disorders such as wet lung and may even cause severe lung disease, leading to death.”
“The Ministry of Health’s own studies “Tobacco and E-cigarette Survey among Malaysian Adolescents (TECMA)” and “Prevalence and Pattern of E-cigarette and Vape Use among Malaysian Adults” conducted by the Institute for Public Health back in 2016 provide an excellent situational analysis of the prevalence of e-cigarette use in Malaysia. They describe an alarming development which has grown worse in recent years.”
“According to these studies and recent news reports, it is clear that even children are currently being targeted for early e-cigarette adoption. These strategies are similar to those use in the past by tobacco companies in the 60s and 70s,” emphasised Azrul.
“It is sobering to realise that there is no age limit if vaping without nicotine in Malaysia. How can we know whether the vape pen being used by that 15-year student has nicotine or any other harmful substance, for that matter?”
There are also currently loopholes which allow for these e-cigarette products to enter the market including heat-not-burn tobacco devices and their refills and even “cigarillos” to exist with barely any excise duties or required to have pictorial warnings.
The Galen Centre for Health & Social Policy hopes that with the upcoming Tobacco Control Bill, the government stands firm on any decision to review, regulate and plug loopholes or shortcomings in the existing tobacco control regulations, including banning e-cigarettes of any kind.
— END —