Lessons to be learned from the vaping fad

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KUALA LUMPUR: The vaping trend may be dying off, but the Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC) remains vigilant against new smoking trends and has urged the government to do the same.

Saying there are lessons to be learned from the entire vaping saga, MCTC president Dr Molly Cheah noted that vaping had grown exponentially but that the authorities had taken too long to be decisive.

“The government should have been a bit more decisive and quicker to act. It should have nipped vaping in the bud.”

Cheah said new smoking trends were bound to come and go, making it all the more important for the government to be quick to stop it before it grew too big, the way vaping and the vaping business had mushroomed last year.

In the long run, Cheah said it would be best for the government to introduce policies and measures to curb or discourage smoking rather than engage in firefighting every time a new smoking trend emerged.

One such measure Cheah said, was to introduce licenses for retailers to sell cigarettes.

“At present, any shop can sell cigarettes. They should be required to apply for a license to sell cigarettes,” she said, adding that retailers would then be compelled to follow the requirements or risk losing their licence altogether.

She also said that cigarettes or smoking devices and materials should also only be allowed to be sold at permanent locations, rather than at mobile stalls at the pasar malam (night markets) or markets.

Furthermore, Cheah said that any sale of cigarettes or smoking devices and materials should be recorded and registered, similar to that of controlled drugs sold at pharmacies.

Cheah said nicotine in tobacco should not be excluded as a Class ‘C’ poison in the Malaysian Poisons Act 1952 as this exemption allowed for tobacco products containing nicotine to be dispensed by non-licensed personnel, unlike other products which contained nicotine.

Such measures, Cheah said would allow for greater control of tobacco and tobacco-related products and trends in the near future.

Earlier, the Malaysia E-Vaporisers and Tobacco Alternative Association (Mevta) claimed the industry was shrinking due to the ban on vaping in certain states, the government’s attempts to regulate the practice and the negative perceptions about the practice.

Mevta Secretary-General Norman Ismail also revealed that there were now only 150 vape outlets in Malaysia, compared to the initial 600 last year.

The industry, which was said to be worth some RM2 billion a year ago, was now valued at an estimated RM600 million only.