KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Family Medicine Specialists’ Association (FMSA) has called on the government to approve the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 immediately.
Its president, Dr Nor Hazlin Talib said any delay or postponement of this bill will lead adolescents “one step closer to significant harm”.
She said since the removal of nicotine-containing liquids from the Poisons Act on April 1, nicotine sales in Malaysia have been unregulated by any legislation, allowing for uncontrolled sales to underage adolescents and children.
“The National Poison Centre studies found vape products displayed alongside candies and stationery in retail stores.
“Universiti Malaya family medicine experts, Professor Dr Amani Ahmad Tajuddin and Dr Megat Mohammad Amirul Amzar Megat Hashim, who have been active in advocacy activities to prevent and stop smoking and vaping since 2015, pointed out their concern with the vaping trend among teenagers and children,” she said in a statement.
While counselling school adolescents aged 13 to 16 years old, the family medicine experts said there was a worrying pattern of vape use, which includes activities such as mixing vape with hallucinogenic substances like psilocybin (known as mushroom flavour among adolescents) and adding tar to e-liquid.
“This pattern is concerning because the use of hallucinogenic substances not only poses serious health risks such as acute poisoning and addiction but can also increase social problems such as drug-influenced sexual assault, as seen in Sabah in May 2023,” she said.
She mentioned vape devices using lithium-ion batteries are at risk of exploding and causing serious injuries, as well as an increased fire risk.
“Studies also indicate that the chemical ingredients such as propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and flavourings in vape can potentially damage the lungs and respiratory tract,” she said.
Meanwhile, she said the 2022 Adolescent Health Survey has shown a change in smoking patterns among adolescents, with a decrease in the use of conventional cigarettes but an increase in vaping.
“Six per cent of adolescents who use vaping are female, compared to only 1 per cent for conventional cigarette use,” she said.
Dr Nor Hazlin stated this indicates higher acceptance of vaping among adolescents, consistent with global research evidence that suggests adolescents use vape out of curiosity, as a lifestyle choice, and due to appealing flavors.
“We strongly condemn any party attempting to politicise this issue and hiding behind the legislative power entrusted to them.
“FMSA takes the issue of vape and electronic cigarette use among adolescents and children seriously,” she said.
Source: New Straits Times