KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 — The Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM) supports the government’s move to tax vape liquids containing nicotine as announced in Budget 2022.
FPMPAM president Dr Steven Chow, in a statement today, said the government’s decision to expand the taxation framework for nicotine vape liquids must be supported by strict regulations that need to be immediately put in place.
“The taxation levels for tobacco harm reduction (THR) products in Malaysia must remain risk-proportionate, benchmarked against high-risk products such as cigarettes. Evidence on risks must be studied and this data can be used to determine the level of restrictions that need to be implemented.”
“Annually, Malaysia spends billions of ringgit in treating smoking-related illnesses. By implementing THR strategies, the country will be able to reduce cigarette smoking-related illnesses, which will save money used for treating these diseases.
“Whether this will be replaced with an increased cost to treat other nicotine-related morbidity needs to be examined closely,” Dr Chow said.
FPMPAM is of the position that the use of nicotine in THR requires strict regulations and should be under the supervision of trained medical experts, according to its position statement on THR.
“As an option in reducing health risks associated with smoking cigarettes, current smokers should be counselled to switch to less harmful nicotine alternatives rather than having them continue with cigarettes,” the statement read.
FPMPAM said the primary value of THR is to reduce the negative consequences associated with smoking cigarettes. By definition, it said THR offers an option for smokers who cannot or are unwilling to stop smoking, to switch to using other less harmful nicotine products.
“It must be remembered that nicotine is the addictive substance in tobacco but it is the tar and other toxins in the smoke produced from burning of tobacco that is the main cause of harm.
“Nicotine is considered to be a safer alternative to tobacco. Nicotine is a substance found predominantly in tobacco, and in significantly lower quantities in tomato, potato, and eggplant. It has been approved for use in nicotine replacement therapies, such as the nicotine patch or nicotine gum. Existing data show that the consumption of nicotine is increasing following its introduction in nicotine replacement therapy.
“However, there are also risks linked to nicotine especially to children and youth. FPMPAM stands firm against the use of any tobacco, vape or other nicotine products for children and teenagers,” it said.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin recently told the World Health Organization (WHO) that Malaysia will soon regulate e-cigarettes or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) so that they do not become accessible to schoolchildren.
FPMPAM will be organising its first THR education series themed ‘Tobacco Harm Reduction: The Malaysian Context’ beginning in November, aimed at members of the scientific, public health and medical community.
“Through this education series, our aim is to initiate national discussion where all parties can discuss and disseminate information from a public health perspective on THR, and how best to move forward from scientific, public health, regulatory and social perspectives,” Dr Chow said.