KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 — The Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy urged Putrajaya to strongly regulate or even ban e-cigarettes altogether, after five people in the United States died of a lung illness linked to vaping.
The Washington Post reported Friday that the US was now facing 450 possible cases of lung disease associated to vaping in 33 states and one territory, as health officials noted that no particular e-cigarette products were linked to the illness.
Some patients had used cannabis-based products, some vaped marijuana and nicotine, while a smaller group reported using nicotine products only.
“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,” Galen CEO Azrul Mohd Khalib said in a statement.
“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,” he added.
He cited 2016 studies by the Health Ministry’s Institute for Public Health that found children were being targeted for e-cigarette use.
“These strategies are similar to those used in the past by tobacco companies in the 60s and 70s,” said 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?”
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad told reporters yesterday that his ministry hoped to table a Bill in Parliament by March next year to regulate vaping and e-cigarettes.