Gazettement Of Regulations Urgently Needed To Curb Vape Addiction — MMA

All MPs should stand ready to collaborate on initiatives aimed at curbing the spread of vaping and protecting youths from its harmful effects, says the MMA.

The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) wants the government to speed up the gazettement of the regulations for e-cigarettes and vape.

This delay in gazetting regulations has led to significant public health risks and has allowed the vape industry to exploit regulatory gaps.

We have been informed that the draft of the regulations have been completed since the end of last year, but there has been no news about it since. The government must explain the reasons for this delay.

It is troubling to hear that 111 cases of exposure to questionable vape liquids were reported to the National Poison Centre from 2015 and last year. This was in addition to the reported cases of E-cigarette or Vaping Associated Lung Injury (EVALI). It was also reported that a number of these cases involved minors. This was revealed in Parliament last week.

No one knows who else might have been exposed to other questionable vape substances and without regulation, who will be held accountable? 

The following are among some of our key concerns.

Proliferation Of Vaping Near Educational Institutions

In the absence of enforced regulations, we have observed a troubling trend where mobile vape kiosks are being set up around universities and schools.

These kiosks not only sell vaping products, but also promote vaping as a lifestyle choice to young people, leading to early nicotine addiction and normalisation of vaping.

The aggressive marketing of vaping as trendy and desirable is deeply concerning, as it can foster long-term addiction, particularly among impressionable youths.

Irresponsible Management Of Nicotine

The decision by the government to remove nicotine from the Poisons Act almost 15 months ago, without promptly gazetting the necessary tobacco control regulations, is highly irresponsible.

This move has ignored the government’s duty to protect public health and was viewed by the public as favouring commercial interests over the wellbeing of our youths.

Tobacco Industry Interference

The Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2023 reveals ongoing and troubling influence by the tobacco and vape industries on public policy in Malaysia.

The industry has been involved in policymaking processes, often under the guise of economic benefits and reducing smuggling.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities by the industry are used to build a positive public image and gain support from the community and policymakers, despite the harmful nature of their products.

The lack of transparency on meetings held between industry representatives and government officials also raises concerns.

Impact On Youth And Public Health

The surge in vaping among youths has profound implications for public health. Early nicotine addiction not only poses severe health risks but also necessitates intensive behavioral management.

Nicotine addiction affects the brain, altering behaviour and cravings, making it challenging to quit once addiction sets in.

If left unaddressed, the current exposure to vaping among youth will complicate the management of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the future, burdening the health care system, reducing productivity, and imposing socio-economic strains on families and the nation.

Given these pressing concerns, MMA urges the government to expedite the gazettement of the regulations under the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Act 2024. 

Immediate actions required include:

  • Restricting the sale and promotion of vaping products near educational institutions to prevent the targeting of youth by the vaping industry.
  • Implementing stringent advertising and packaging regulations to reduce the appeal of vaping products to minors.
  • Strict enforcement to curb illegal sales and marketing practices, ensuring that vaping products are inaccessible to those under 18.

Multi-Ministerial Cooperation Needed

We call for a coordinated effort involving the Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Education (MOE), Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE), and Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (KPWKM).

This multi-ministerial collaboration is essential to effectively protect our young from the dangers of vaping.

Appeal To Parliamentarians

MMA appeals to Members of Parliament to take a strong stance on this critical issue.

By pressuring the government to finalise and implement these regulations swiftly, MPs can play a vital role in safeguarding the future of our younger generation.

The health and wellbeing of our youth should be a top priority, transcending political and commercial interests.

We look forward to the support of all MPs in addressing this urgent matter and stand ready to collaborate on initiatives aimed at curbing the spread of vaping and protecting our youth from its harmful effects.

Dr Azizan Abdul Aziz is the president of the Malaysian Medical Association.

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.

You may also like