KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 29 — An anti-smoking umbrella group has urged the government to ban e-cigarettes and vaping products that are considered unsafe by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC), which represents over 40 non-government organisations, said there is no scientific evidence that contradicts recommendations by the public health agency of the United Nations (UN) on the matter.
Therefore, MCTC told CodeBlue today, the WHO’s input should form the basis of public policies for all governments worldwide in immediately tackling what it described as a “menace”.
MCTC secretary-general Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah added that there is no justification in allowing e-cigarette use among the masses, and neither are there public policies anywhere that aim to “regulate or legitimise self-harm”.
“As such, this needs immediate action by the government in banning the continued sale of ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems),” he said when contacted.
The WHO last Monday said ENDS are unsafe for users and equally harmful to those exposed to secondhand vapour emissions, adding that such devices typically contain nicotine, including those claiming to be nicotine-free.
It added that it is clear that there is not enough evidence to support the use of these products for smoking cessation, and recommended other proven, safer and licensed products, such as nicotine replacement therapies, for tobacco users looking to quit.
Muhammad Sha’ani said ENDS are being popularised among youths in Europe and in the United States, and claimed that while they never smoked tobacco products, most of them turned to smoking tobacco in the end.
He also claimed that marketing efforts by ENDS manufacturers are being controlled by tobacco companies, and that this was a clear back-door attempt for the tobacco industry to continue their trade by circumventing tobacco control measures.
He further alleged that 85 per cent of ENDS-manufacturing companies are also in the pockets of tobacco players.
“As WHO has chosen the 2020 World No Tobacco Day theme as protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use, it is very clear for all to recognise the seriousness of the issue,” he said.
The WHO has claimed that ENDS use increases the risk of heart disease and lung disorders, while in pregnant women, they pose significant risks as they can damage the growing foetus. Nicotine, which is present in an infused aerosol in ENDS, also could affect brain development, it added.
The WHO noted that countries can choose to ban e-cigarettes, as has been done in over 30 countries worldwide. They can also be regulated, it recommended, and lauded taxing efforts to encourage higher prices of ENDS that deter consumption.
Malaysia has yet to do either and there are no specific regulations governing the sale and use of vaporisers and e-cigarettes. However, a ban on vaporiser liquids containing nicotine has been in place in the country since November 2015.