The government is fanning away your vape smoke and allowing you to blindly inhale toxins and chemicals while they profit from it.
Malaysia aims to achieve a 5 per cent prevalence rate of tobacco or related products by 2045. To achieve this, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) has put forward policies such as monitoring tobacco use and products, banning product advertising, promoting and marketing and increasing taxation.
However, regulatory guidelines have not been put into practice in Malaysia. We don’t even know how many e-cigarettes are in our country right now, let alone what’s inside them.
If the goal is to reach a generation free of tobacco, why did we turn a blind eye to harm reduction? With adolescents and young adults being amongst the highest consumers of vape and e-cigarettes, we have begun to recognise our failures in enforcing these policies.
In response, our government decided to remove nicotine liquids and gels as controlled substances and allow for their increased accessibility in the market for a paltry tax of 40 sen per millilitre of e-juice, deemed excessively low by experts.
The irony of such legislative decisions highlights a troubling fact: our government is ignoring our citizen’s health and providing negligible amounts back to their healthcare.
The Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 is a true representation of efforts to safeguard our citizen’s health. This Bill posits a ‘generational end-game’ which prohibits the sale and use of smoking products to individuals born from 2007 onwards.
It also covers stringent policies and guidelines modelled from ASEAN and European countries to curb the prevalence of tobacco and tobacco products.
The importance of this Bill is widely understood as petitions in support of its passing have obtained more than 9.2 million signatures from concerned citizens. However, the same call for immediate action seems to not be shared in Parliament, as denoted by the postponement of the Bill’s second reading.
I would like to ask: where is the sense of urgency? With each fleeting day, the shocking removal of liquid nicotine from the Poisons Act allows our young and vulnerable youth to obtain more access to e-cigarettes and vaping.
By not giving enough importance to the life-changing impact of nicotine addiction and the seriousness of health problems tied to alternative tobacco products, we are inflicting more harm on our youth. This will haunt us for years to come.
Action needs to be taken now and not pushed off to a later date. I fear that if ignored, we may start counting coffins rather than the costs of effective treatment.
Vivania Shakti Ram is a final year BSc Psychology student with an interest in public health, specifically in health policy and tobacco control legislation in Malaysia.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.