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Malaysia: Ban vape and e-cigarettes before more children get hooked on them, CAP urges govt

18 September 2022

By Audrey Dermawan, New Straits Times

GEORGE TOWN: The government must make an urgent decision to ban vape and e-cigarettes before more children get hooked on nicotine smoke.

The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) is appealing to the Health Ministry to make a decision to ban all types of vaping devices and e-cigarettes immediately.

CAP education officer and anti-smoking activist N.V. Subbarow said if the ministry did not take such a decision, many children would be in danger.

He said a new study by CAP showed that there were many cheap vapes and e-cigarettes sold in the market that children could easily buy.

According to him, traders sold these things without asking their buyers’ age.

“There are 8-year-old children who used to smoke cigarettes and are now buying vape devices because of the liquid that is sold in fruit flavors.

“Some of the boys we surveyed admitted that they shared costs and the gadgets. For instance, there will be about four or five students in a group who will pool their money to buy the items. Toilets will be their hangout spot.

“The survey also shows that more teenagers are addicted to them.

“As such, the government must make an urgent decision to ban vape and e-cigarettes before more teenagers get hooked on nicotine smoke,” he told the New Straits Times.

He was responding to a recent report in the NST on growing vape poisoning among young children.

The National Poison Centre at Universiti Sains Malaysia had revealed that there were 57 poisoning cases due to vape exposure since 2015, when it was first made commercially available, until August this year.

Subbarow said to date, more than 20 countries, mostly in South America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, had banned the sale of e-cigarette products.

“Thailand has strict laws. Australia, Canada and Norway have introduced many restrictions. But in Malaysia, it is an easily available product. It can be bought anywhere.

“Now, stalls that sell sweets and magazines sell vapes and e-cigarettes. Many supermarkets located near schools also sell these products to students.

“Many young people who have never smoked cigarettes are using vapes and e-cigarettes, which are available in over 16,000 flavors.

“CAP is calling for an immediate decision to ban vaping and e-cigarettes before they damage adolescent brain development.”

In a survey conducted by CAP, Subbarow said it was found that children, including girls from primary and secondary schools, were addicted to vaping and e-cigarettes and that youths were increasing their smoking habits.

“The CAP survey also revealed that these vapes and e-cigarettes are like lollipops to these children because of the liquid fruit flavor,” he said.

In late July, the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill, aimed at snuffing the smoking habit and protecting the health of Malaysians, was tabled for the first reading by Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin at the Dewan Rakyat.

The law would apply to those born in 2007 onwards, and not 2005 as initially proposed.

If passed, Malaysia will not only ban smoking but also prohibit the ownership of tobacco and vape products by those born after 2007.

The bill, also known as the tobacco generational endgame law, was subsequently put on hold and referred to the parliamentary special select committee following various complaints and suggestions.