KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 – Opposition MPs are amplifying calls for the reintroduction of liquid nicotine into the Poisons Act 1952, amid mounting concerns over the surging popularity of vaping among young people.
Kuala Langat MP Dr Ahmad Yunus Hairi, who heads Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) health portfolio, said the absence of regulations on vape has led to a proliferation in the number of teenagers indulging in e-cigarettes or vape.
“By excluding liquid nicotine from the Poisons Act, we have inadvertently created loopholes that undermine our efforts to combat the use of vape among our youth.
“I hope liquid nicotine can be reinstated into the Poisons Act, given the Health Minister’s authority over the matter, so that, at the very least, before we proceed with the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023, we can have some control over these e-cigarette devices,” Dr Ahmad Yunus said in his debate on the Health White Paper (HWP) tabled in Parliament today.
Supporting this call for action, Jerantut MP Khairil Nizam Khirudin echoed concerns over the removal of liquid nicotine from the Poisons Act, which has faced criticism from various medical institutions.
“The Ministry of Health (MOH) and its dedicated staff have diligently worked to educate the public, particularly the younger generation, about the risks associated with e-cigarettes and vape,” Khairil Nizam said in his HWP debate. “However, it is disheartening to witness the surge in vape usage among teenagers, with statistics showing an increase from 9.8 per cent in 2017 to 14.9 per cent in the last five years.
“It is crucial that the government reconsider its stance on this issue and be prepared to make a policy ‘U-turn’ to safeguard public health.”
Both the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) and the Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) have previously urged the government to bring liquid nicotine back under the control of the Poisons Act 1952, particularly in light of the uncertain status of the tobacco bill.
Dr Murallitharan Munisamy – chairman of the Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC) and managing director of the National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM) – said the postponement of the tobacco bill until the next Parliament meeting in October is a stark reflection of the executive and legislative branches’ failure to prioritise public health.
The Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill, which regulates tobacco and vape products, remains in limbo after it was referred to the Health parliamentary special select committee (PSSC) – chaired by former Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad – immediately after first reading at the Dewan Rakyat on Monday.
This means that vape and e-cigarettes will remain legally available for sale to minors aged under 18 for at least another four months more until the Lower House meets in October.
In a press conference held separately today, Dr Ahmad Yunus described the referral of the tobacco bill to the Health PSSC as a “waste of time”, emphasising again the dangers of not having legal control on nicotine vape following the removal of liquid nicotine from the Poisons List.
“We hope that the chairman of the Health PSSC will determine the nearest date for us to hold a Health PSSC meeting and make a consensus decision on the matter,” said Dr Ahmad Yunus, who also serves as a member of the Health PSSC.