KUALA LUMPUR, June 6 – A two-year-old girl in Bera, Pahang, has been hospitalised for suspected nicotine poisoning, after she was believed to have ingested liquid nicotine from a disposable vape.
The child was admitted to Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Hospital in Temerloh, Pahang, after suffering symptoms of cough, vomiting, and breathing difficulty last May 30, when she was found with the vape device nearby.
It was not clear, according to the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) statement, whether the toddler had inhaled from the disposable e-cigarette or swallowed its liquid. Pods containing the vape juice typically can’t be removed or separated from a disposable device.
The two-year-old suffered from seizures twice during treatment at the paediatric intensive care unit where she needed breathing assistance, but she is currently stable and breathing without the need for ventilator support.
“This patient was diagnosed with acute life threatening event secondary to possible alleged nicotine ingestion complicated with seizure,” the MOH said in a statement last night.
MOH added that the case was initially reported as a probable case of e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury (Evali), but clinical findings did not match the criteria for Evali as per guidelines.
“Urine test results showed a high level of nicotine. The electronic cigarette that was found has been sent to the lab for further testing.”
MOH also advised the general public that “any use of smoking products, including electronic cigarettes, is harmful to health.”
Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa gazetted an order last March 31 to remove liquid nicotine from control under the Poisons Act 1952, legalising the sale and use of e-cigarettes and vape with nicotine for anyone, including children and teenagers aged below 18.
“Nicotine poisoning as a result of the use of tobacco or e-cigarette liquids can cause acute effects, like heart palpitations, vomiting, and seizures. This can happen to all users, including children,” MOH said in its statement yesterday.
“The long-term effects of nicotine exposure can affect brain development, especially for children.”
The government has promised to table the Control of Smoking Product for Public Health Bill 2023 – which regulates both tobacco and vape products – in the current Dewan Rakyat meeting, but the bill was not listed for tabling for first reading in today’s sitting, according to the Order Paper.
Due to the exemption of liquid nicotine from the Poisons List, e-cigarettes and vape with nicotine can be legally sold to anyone in Malaysia, including minors, without any regulations whatsoever on nicotine content; advertising, promotion and sponsorship; or sales restrictions.