Gopeng MP: Regulate Vape Separately From Smoked Tobacco

Ex-deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye supports the tobacco GEG, noting that the majority of adult smokers are unable to quit smoking even with the best available smoking cessation treatment.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3 – Gopeng MP Dr Lee Boon Chye has called for vape and e-cigarettes to be regulated separately from smoked tobacco products like cigarettes.

The PKR lawmaker, who previously served as deputy health minister, said the content of e-liquids in non-combustible nicotine products like vape and e-cigarettes must be regulated to ensure relative safety, compared to cigarette smoking.

“Even though there is early evidence to show that vaping and e-cigarettes, when properly regulated, are much safer than cigarettes in the short term, the long-term effect is still uncertain,” Dr Lee said in a statement yesterday.

“Furthermore in the prevailing environment where the smoking habit is prevalent, the younger generation may become nicotine addicts and subsequently, chronic smokers, by starting with vaping activities. Hence vaping and e-cigarettes must be regulated.

“Vaping and e-cigarettes should be regulated separately from smoking so that there is leeway to allow for lesser control, provided that there is further evidence of long-term safety.”

Physicians from the Malaysia Society for Harm Reduction recently urged the government to implement its proposed tobacco and vape generational end game (GEG) in phases, instead of a hard ban, pending a review of tobacco harm reduction like using e-cigarettes and vape as an alternative to smoked tobacco.

The Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022 proposes to ban smoking and vaping for anyone born from January 1, 2007, prohibiting the sale and use of both smoked tobacco and vape products by the next generation.

Dr Lee, who is PKR’s parliamentary health spokesman, also expressed support for the tobacco control bill that is expected to be tabled by Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin in the current parliamentary meeting.

“GEG will reduce tobacco consumption and hopefully, in some distant future, end tobacco addiction,” he wrote.

He added that the annual cost of treating tobacco-related disease is at least four times the revenue collected from tobacco taxes.

“Reducing tobacco consumption saves money for the country and also produces a healthier and more productive population.”

The PKR legislator cited data showing that even with the best available smoking cessation treatment, only 35 to 40 per cent of adult smokers manage to quit smoking, with many failing to quit even after suffering a heart attack or cancer.

“It means that at least 60 per cent of the adult smokers have actually lost their freedom to quit smoking!” Dr Lee said.

“GEG, by preventing the future generation from consuming and subsequent addiction to tobacco, it is defending our youth’s freedom not to smoke and freedom to choose a healthier lifestyle.”

The new parliamentary special select committee (PSSC) is still reviewing the tobacco control bill, four days before Budget 2023 is scheduled for tabling on Friday, with the dissolution of Parliament speculated in the next two weeks to pave the way for the 15th general election.

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