PETALING JAYA: A think tank today urged Putrajaya to impose a total ban on e-cigarettes from the Malaysian market, following deaths in the United States allegedly linked to them.
The Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy said the government should also adopt strong regulations similar to those enforced for traditional cigarettes when it comes to vaping.
Its chief executive Azrul Mohd Khalib said health officials in the US were recommending people to stop vaping as hundreds were coming down with severe lung illness.
Azrul said this, along with the related deaths, should be treated as strong evidence for authorities here to accept that the use of e-cigarettes was harmful to lungs.
“In the past, there were arguments supporting the view that there was a healthier way to smoke a cigarette. Today, we hear similar voices saying that smoking e-cigarettes, vaping or using heat-not-burn devices are healthier and safer.
“Both are misleading and cynical. The fact is that both have different degrees of health risks and consequences,” he said in a statement.
He said while the effects of vaping and other forms of e-cigarettes were still being studied and understood, it was known that using e-cigarettes could cause lung disorders such as wet lung and even severe lung disease, leading to death.
He pointed out that the health ministry’s studies on the use of e-cigarettes in Malaysia had revealed an “alarming development which has grown worse in recent years”.
He said the report also noted that even children were being targeted for e-cigarette adoption.
Azrul expressed hope that that with the upcoming Tobacco Control Bill, the government would stand firm on any decision to review, regulate and plug loopholes or shortcomings in the existing tobacco control regulations, including banning e-cigarettes of any kind.
Earlier today, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said his ministry would table a bill on the usage of tobacco, vape, e-cigarettes and shisha in Parliament by March next year.
Yesterday, the Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC) also urged Putrajaya to ban the entry and sale of vape devices to prevent drug abuse among children and teenagers, especially students.