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Act before more e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury deaths

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Medical Association has called on the Health Ministry to act before more E-cigarette or Vaping Product use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) deaths occur.

In a statement, its president, Dr. Muruga Raj Rajathurai, put pressure on the Health Ministry to come up with preventive measures against EVALI deaths following the ministry’s surveys that showed a high prevalence of vaping among teens.

This was following the Health Ministry’s National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2022 statistics, which recorded an increase in the use of electronic cigarettes or vaping among teenagers from 9.8 per cent in 2017 to 14.9 per cent in 2022.

“We lost one 16-year-old girl who died of acute heart failure with pulmonary embolism in a probable E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) case after three years of vaping. Will the Health Ministry accept responsibility for more vaping-related deaths?

“Can the amount collected in taxes from the sale of e-cigarettes and vaping products prevent loss of life due to the damage to health caused by these products?”

The MMA also called for the ministry to test vaping liquids or gels before being sold, as well as perform recalls on products that have safety concerns akin to their procedure for safety concern on food items.

“Has every single e-cigarette and vaping liquid or gel sold in the market been tested by the Health Ministry for its safety? If the Health Ministry has not tested these products, then it should be ready to accept full responsibility for any unfortunate events linked to the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products.

“In the past, the Health Ministry had ordered recalls for certain food items over safety concerns. Will it do the same for any vape products found to be poisonous?”

The MMA also reiterated their calls to re-list nicotine in the Poisons Act and to get the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023, dubbed the generational end game (GEG) bill, passed in parliament.

“How is it possible that the Health Ministry removes nicotine from the Poisons Act after knowing these serious risks to health? And without any regulation whatsoever in place for e-cigarettes and vaping products.

“How can we sleep at night knowing that thousands of our young are at serious risk of lung injury and possibly even death? It is time the Health Ministry wakes up and re-lists nicotine under the Poisons Act and gets the GEG bill passed in the current parliament session.”

On June 12, the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023, dubbed the generational end game (GEG) bill, was tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat.

Health Minister Dr. Zaliha Mustafa said the bill would be referred to the parliamentary special select committee (PSSC) before being debated in Parliament.

During a special chambers session later, Dr. Zaliha said the ministry’s move to once again refer the bill to the PSSC was made following calls by stakeholders, including individuals in the fraternity, to have it studied further.

The bill deals with not only conventional smoking products but also “next generation” products, including electronic and combustible cigarette products.

Source: New Straits Times

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